Thursday, 1 February 2018

February 1st, 1978 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

This week of forty years ago was a good week for all fans of  reggae, as magnificent one-hit wonders Althea and Donna knocked a certain bagpipe waltz off the top of the UK charts, thanks to their smash hit Uptown Top Ranking. Forty years later, I still don't have a clue what exactly it is they were trying to say to me but I do know it's surely the first classic Number One of that year.

But, even as that epoch-making event was occurring, what about the heroes of our favourite comics company? Were they in their pants and ting and, if they were, were they strictly roots?

I suspect they weren't but there's only one way to find out.

Rampage #16, the Defenders and Luke Cage

Luke Cage shows up. Does he become a member for a while?

I have a feeling he does but I could be getting confused with his stint in the Fantastic Four.

Then again, maybe he didn't have a stint  in the Fantastic Four and I'm getting that mixed up with this.

Either way, I believe this tale involves some evil-doer using Nighthawk's fortune for nefarious purposes.

What those purposes are, I'm not totally certain of. Does it turn out that Nightie is inadvertently funding the Sons of the Serpent?

But I can't help feeling the good Doctor is being unnecessarily defeatist there. Surely a man who can take on Dormammu could flatten Luke Cage without trying?

Then again, Batman can beat up Superman but often has trouble dealing with the Penguin, so, who can know?

The Complete Fantastic Four #19, Mahkizmo punches the Thing as Thundra watches on

Mahkizmo shows up.

That really is one of the worst super-villain names ever.

As predicted, at some point, somewhere in this site's comments section, this issue features the Fantastic Four's Silver Age trip to Hollywood to make a movie produced by the Sub-Mariner. As a kid, I always loved that tale, especially its confrontation between the Sub-Mariner and the Thing.

Mighty World of Marvel #279, Hulk vs Jack of Hearts who is firing rays at him from his hands as he flies through the air

There's little I can say about this issue, other than that it features Jack of Hearts again. For such a minor character, it was remarkably hard to get away from him in this era.

Super Spider-Man #280, spider-man swings down at a mysterious man in a back street who then turns out to be the Molten Man and grabs him by the ankle as he tears his own coat off

Liz Allen's half-brother is back.

No doubt he has a plan to cure himself of his nightmarish affliction and make the world a safer place.

No doubt Spider-Man does everything he can to wreck that plan and then congratulates himself when he does so.

Marvel UK, Savage Sword of Conan #4, the Devil in Iron by Robert E Howard, in a boris vallejo cover, conan swings his sword as a giant with a mace heads towards him

Marvel UK were clearly keen on using Boris Vallejo to drive sales. Four issues in and he's already been responsible for every cover.

I had the American original of this issue. I recall Conan going to an abandoned island, for some reason or other, and encountering a dead giant on a slab, one who's made of metal and, inevitably, comes back to life and starts killing everyone he meets.

Needless to say, his invulnerability to all harm doesn't save him from Conan.

I believe this tale may also include a giant python and a woman who's been asleep for centuries and knows nothing of the passage of time since she fell into her slumber.


Timothy Field said...

I'm pretty sure I had all these weeklies at the time, though drawing a complete blank on the Hulk/Jack of Hearts story. I thought the first time I encountered JoF was a few years later when some of his solo stories were reprinted by Marvel UK. No wonder he never caught on, could you imagine having to draw that outfit for page after page?

Timothy Field said...

JoF? JoH obviously but maybe Jack of Fussy-outfit was closer.

Anonymous said...

And the second classic No.1 of 1978 was Brotherhood Of Man's "Figaro", yayyy!! But wasn't every No.1 of 1978 a classic - yes, even Brian & Michael.

Marvel UK's Savage Sword Of Conan printed the stories in a very different order to the American original but I was totally unaware of this fact until 2008 when I bought Volume 1 of Dark Horse's Savage Sword reprints. But thankfully it did include my favourite Conan story, "Iron Shadows In The Moon". And Marvel has now regained the rights to Conan from Dark Horse!!

Why doesn't Conan eat biscuits in bed?
Because the croms get everywhere.

dangermash said...

Hi Steve. Dangermash, your resident FF #9 expert here.

With Complete FF #19 featuring the end of FF #9 it seems we're at the point where the old FF stories are split over three weeks of Complete FF.

That's my big observation this week.

Steve W. said...

Colin, it's good to hear love for Brian and Michael. Wasn't that knocked off the top slot by Wuthering Heights? That means we had a Number One about an artist, followed by a Number One about a novel. Truly, 1978 was a year for high culture.

Thanks for the FF issue #9 info, Dangermash. By my reckoning, that means that the Complete FF issue that reprints the one with Doctor Doom's inflatable dummies should be #43. I shall have a quick check on the Grand Comics Database to see if I recognise the cover.

Timothy, the Jack of Hearts costume really is the most over-designed thing I can remember ever seeing in the pages of a comic book. It was total madness.

Steve W. said...

I've just checked and it turns out there wasn't a Complete Fantastic Four #43. The book got cancelled after #37. Now I'm really confused.

dangermash said...

I make it that FF #17 should come up in Complete FF 41-43, with the inflatables presumably in #41 as they were near the beginning. But that's beside the point if Complete FF stops at #37.

Maybe it gives back to printing a monthly issue over two weeks. Or skips some issues. If there were any brilliant issues between #9 and #17 I'd be wondering whether they got special treatment like an issue of Complete FF devoted only to the reprints. But there’s nothing special in that window. The Thing/Avengers vs Hulk two parter isn't until the mid #20s.

Something's definitely odd. We'll just have to keep watching out for hints on the UK covers.

Anonymous said...

I think I had FF and MWOM this week. I recall being vaguely disappointed that, unlike on the cover, Jack of Hearts was nowhere near as big as the Hulk on the inside pages. The new FF stories pass to MWOM after #37, just after the Luke Cage story. I think the reprints continued in the pocket books, but that would be a few years away.


Steve W. said...

Upon reflection, I have a feeling that I may have read the tale in one of the FF pocketbooks, rather than The Complete FF. I do have a vague memory of having owned one issue of one pocketbook (I've no idea which one), so it may have been there that I encountered the reprint.

Anonymous said...

I think I've merely muddied the water, Steve, as a quick check suggests the first FF pocket book reprinted Annual #3 and then subsequent monthly issues. If they did reprint (outside of the original MWOM) these stories, I have no recollection.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Hey Gents, these books were all strictly reprints? There was no original material therein?

Anonymous said...


Original material will start to appear in just over a year’s time. We’re currently between the great landscape era and the Dez revolution.


Anonymous said...

Steve, you got it the wrong way round - Kate Bush was knocked off No.1 by Brian & Michael.

The Lee/Kirby FF stories didn't get split across three weeks till the, invaded...The Complete FF around No.30 or so.

Steve W. said...

Thanks for the correction, Colin. Knowing this makes Brian and Michael seem even more awesome than ever.

Dougie said...

jack of Hearts had his costume simplified in the early 90s when he was a guest-star in Silver Surfer. It reverted back to the over-designed original for all his 90s and Noughties appearances. It was worthy of George "Kitchen Sink" Perez.

JofH was finally killed off when Geoff "Hope-and-Optimism" Johns had him commit suicide while abducting a paedophile.

Steve, you are totally correct in all your recollections of the Devil in Iron, which is basically a rewrite of Iron Shadows of the Moon blended with Xuthal of the Dusk.

Steve W. said...

Thanks for the confirmation, Dougie. It's nice to know I wasn't thinking of the wrong Conan story. They do all tend to blur into one after a while.

Dean Willetts said...

There's something I can't help liking about those Ron Wilson covers. He must've been drawing none stop in the Seventies, he did so many for Marvel US and Marvel U.K.

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