Thursday 28 June 2018

June 28th, 1978 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

Like all right-minded people, I shall never get over my discombobulation that Pluto is no longer recognised as an official planet. Does this mean that all my hard work at school, learning the rhyme that helps you remember the order of the planets, was wasted?

Yes it does.

I have a good mind to sue.

Still, the present may be an unhappy time for the only ex-planet to be named after a cartoon character but the past was a far happier place - because, forty years ago this week, not only was Pluto still being treated with the respect it doesn't deserve but it was going considerably up in the universe, as its largest moon Charon was first discovered. Astronomers later went on to discover another four moons.

Hold on a minute. Pluto has five moons? And they still don't count it as a planet? What kind of space madness is this?

There's only one thing for it. I'm going to have to take refuge in a galaxy far far away.

Star Wars Weekly #21, Crimson Jack

I don't have a clue who Crimson Jack is. Therefore, I shall Google him to find out...

Having Googled him, I now know him to be a space pirate, operating on the Outer Rim.

The outer rim of what? I have no idea but I shall definitely be staying away from it because it would seem that, so dastardly is he, he captures the Millennium Falcon and steals the reward Han Solo was given for rescuing Princess Leia. The man's obviously a bounder of the worst kind.

I don't have a clue who the woman, bottom right, is but she's clearly a member of the French Resistance and is, therefore, patently not a woman to be messed with.

Mighty World of Marvel #300, Hulk, Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Captain America, Sub-Mariner, Spitfire

Hooray! Marvel UK's flagship title celebrates 300 years of existence, a truly remarkable feat.

What actually happens in this landmark issue is beyond my recall.

I would claim that I expect it to be filled with extra-special features, appropriate to the occasion but, judging by that cover, I suspect it'll just be the same old stuff as usual.

Super Spider-Man #281, the Punisher

The presence of the Punisher on this cover suggests to me that Spider-Man's problems with the Hitman are still ongoing.

Isn't this the tale that climaxes with J Jonah Jameson dangling from the Statue of Liberty?

I'm not totally sure why the Punisher's shooting that wall. Is randomly shooting walls a thing he does now?

Thursday 21 June 2018

June 21st, 1978 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

This week of 1978 was a remarkable one for all lovers of cartoon cats because it was the week in which Garfield made its debut. Apparently, it went on to become the most widely syndicated comic strip on Earth, which was nice, although it is a surprise that Peanuts doesn't hold the title.

But that was nothing because if you were a lover of cartoon cats and you were a cricket fan, things were even better.

That's thanks to it being the week in which Ian Botham became the first man in history to score a century and take eight wickets in one innings of a test match. I wish I could claim the news would have excited me at the time but, to be honest, I always feel that watching a cricket match is basically just a trial run for what it'll feel like to be dead.

As for this day in that year, it was a great one for all lovers of deceased Argentinian First Ladies because it was the date upon which Evita opened at the Prince Edward Theatre in London.

Star Wars Weekly #20, han solo holding a light saber above his head as a monster looms behind him

Hold on a minute. Han Solo can use a light-sabre? Will such a device even work for one who is not gifted with the correct level of midi-chlorians?

Regardless, I'm not convinced that the best way to deal with a monster is to stand with your back to it.

Mighty World of Marvel #299, the Hulk and the Fantastic Four

It's that much-remembered Jim Starlin drawn tale that involves cannibalism and caves. To be honest, after forty years, I still haven't got over it.

On the other hand, I'm confident that Gorr the golden gorilla would never be rude enough to eat a person, which is good news, as it means the FF find themselves in a position that will lead them to Counter-Earth and the High Evolutionary, rather than a position that will lead them to the bottom of Gorr's stomach.

The Hulk's UK reprints now appear to be no more than five months behind the US originals.
Super Spider-Man #290, the Punisher and the Hitman

I totally forget just why it is the Hitman's so determined to bump off J. Jonah Jameson.

Admittedly, I can think of all kinds of reasons why someone would want to bump off Jonah, but why the Hitman would, I have no idea.

Tuesday 19 June 2018

The Power Pack of Ken Reid.

Ken Reid collected book form edition Irmantas Povilaika volume 1
Anyone who ever read a British comic in the period from the 1940s to the late 1980s will be familiar with the work of Ken Reid who produced sterling work for the likes of The Beano, Dandy, Cor, Buster, Smash, Pow, Whoopee and Monster Fun. Among his claims to fame was that he co-created Roger the Dodger and Faceache.

But now there's a chance for any Ken lovers to express that love in book form because Irmantas Povilaika is aiming to release a complete official collection of Reid's strips from Wham, Smash and Pow, including the complete Frankie Stein, Jasper the Grasper, Queen of the Seas, Dare-A-Day Davy and The Nervs.

As well as all that, the venture will include unseen sketches, drawings, and facsimiles of hand-written scripts, with introductions by Ken's son Antony J Reid, Beano artist Nigel Parkinson and British comics historian Steve Holland. There'll also be a detailed illustrated biography, covering the years when Reid worked for Odhams Press.

Ken Reid collected book form edition Irmantas Povilaika volume 2
The collection consists of two hard-cover volumes, of 204 pages each and, to raise the money for this venture, Irmantas is now running a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. The campaign has just three more weeks to run, so if you want to help the project become a reality, you can find out more at:  and by visiting Irmantas's own blog Kazoop!!

Sunday 17 June 2018

2000 AD - May 1980.

This is going to be the worst ever instalment that even this feature has ever seen, as I must confess I don't have a clue what happens in this month's issues of 2000 AD, and the covers give few hints, other than that Judge Dredd is still in search of the Judge Child.

Frankly, I'd give up if I were him. It all looks like far too much inconvenience to go through.

But, as regards the rest of the contents, what happened to the good old days when 2000 AD covers featured great hordes of captions that I could comment upon?

Obviously, they're gone.

However, that aside, there is one huge great big thing that leaps out at us about May 1980.

And that's that there were only two issues of the galaxy's greatest comic published that month.

Why was this? Was there industrial action? Did IPC run out of paper? Did they run out of ink? Did they run out of artists? Did they just decide to experiment with  a radical new schedule that involved the comic randomly disappearing from the newsagents for weeks on end?

Whatever the reason, it means there are only two covers available for me to post. So, here they are...

2000 AD Prog 163, Judge Dredd

2000 AD Prog 164, Judge Dredd

Thursday 14 June 2018

June 14th, 1978 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

I've got chills and they're multiplying.

It can only mean one thing.

That this week of 1978 was a great one for all fans of Hylda Baker and Arthur Mullard - because it was the one in which You're the One That I Want hit the Number One spot on the UK singles chart before deciding to stay there for practically ever.

Admittedly, it wasn't their version that had achieved the feat, but the success of Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta's version did lead to the existence of that second version which artistically surpassed it in every way, including in the field of raw sex appeal. We can only, therefore, be grateful to Newton-John and Travolta for putting the song on the map.

Things were clearly going swimmingly for Hylda and Arthur but what of our favourite comics company? Could it possibly match up to such triumph?

Seemingly not, as, after several months of it producing five titles a week, it was suddenly back down to three.

Was the proud venture doomed?

Only time could tell.

Star Wars Weekly #19

I don't have a clue what happens in this issue. Given that it shows a monster bursting up out of the ground, I'd like to think the cover's a tribute to the cover of Fantastic Four #1 but, as Chewbacca's not tied up and Han Solo isn't held in the monster's clutches, I suspect it isn't.

Come to think of it, you genuinely could do a recreation of that cover with the cast of Star Wars. Princess Leia could stand in for Sue Storm, Chewbacca could stand in for The Thing, Luke Skywalker could stand in for Johnny Storm, and Han Solo could stand in for Reed Richards. The Mole Man's monster could be replaced with that big mouth with tentacles that showed up in Return of the Jedi.

Mighty World of Marvel #298

Hooray! The Fantastic Four make their universe-shattering return to the comic that had first given them UK life, six years earlier - and they immediately find themselves up against a golden gorilla that won't stop growing.

Admittedly, it's probably not a return to celebrate, as it's only happened because their own title's folded. However, as I never used to get that title and I always got The Mighty World of Marvel, it was good news for me. And, let's face it, me is all that matters.

Not such good news is that The Invaders have made the crossing with them. Why were Marvel UK so determined to inflict them on us? Why?

We do at least get the consolation of the appearance of Angar the Screamer in the pages of Daredevil. Wasn't it this tale which coined the phrase, "The Teardrop Explodes," thus providing a certain British early-1980s band with its name?

That band was, of course, Black Lace.

Super Spider-Man #279, the Hitman Strikes

After two weeks of covers I haven't recognised, Super Spider-Man finally gives me a cover I do recognise, as the Hitman is in town.

Was this his first appearance in the mag or was there an earlier tale that featured him?

Tuesday 12 June 2018

The Marvel Lucky Bag - June 1978.

What worthwhile things do I have to be getting on with in my life right now?

None whatsoever.

And that can only mean one thing.

That it's time for me to yet again discover what Marvel's less high-profile comics were up to, four decades ago.

Doctor Strange #29, Death-Stalker

It does seem a strange thing to see the good doctor coming up against Death-Stalker who, despite his attitude, wasn't, as far as I'm aware, an actual supernatural character.

It also feels strange to see Nighthawk there. Somehow, you always felt like Strange's solo appearances and his Defenders adventures happened in parallel universes to each other, with no prospect of a cross-over.

You also can't help but suspect that a foe who'd repeatedly met defeat at the hands of Daredevil might not be wise to tangle with a full-blown master of the mystic arts.

Godzilla #11, Red Ronin and Yetrigar

It's the battle we all wanted to see; Godzilla vs Bigfoot vs Red Ronin, in the Grand Canyon.

I do love the expression on Red Ronin's face. That look of, "What am I even doing here?"

Machine Man #3, Ten-For

For a moment, I got over-excited and thought Machine Man was up against Thanos.

Sadly, he seems to be up against a villain called Ten-For who, whatever his merits, will, I suspect, never be the main antagonist in a series of Marvel movies.

Marvel Super Special #3, Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Marvel gives us its adaptation of Steven Spielberg's classic tale of alien abduction and potato sculpting.

Marvel Team-Up #70, Spider-Man, Thor and the Living Monolith

I must come clean and admit the only reason I've included this cover is because I remember reading the X-Men's encounter with the Living Monolith in the pages of an Alan Class reprint, and the Liv Mon, as I know him, therefore, gives me warm, fuzzy nostalgic feelings.

Rampaging Hulk #9, the Avengers

Thanks the meddlesome machinations of the Krylorians, we get the first ever appearance of the Avengers, months before their official debut

Despite what's on the cover, no Hulks were harmed during the making of this comic.

I'm also pretty sure the tale takes place in somewhere like Paris or Munich, not the aurora tickled wasteland that the cover depicts.

Devil Dinosaur #3

I don't have a clue what's going on but it's always good to see a dinosaur being swung around by the tail.

Howard the Duck #25, the Circus of Crime

At last, after defeats by the Hulk, Thor, Avengers, Daredevil and Spider-Man, the Ringmaster and his Circus of Crime find their true level.

Fighting Howard the Duck.

If they lose this one, there really is no hope for them.

Marvel Premiere #42, Tigra vs a mammoth

I don't have a clue what goes on in this issue but if it features Tigra fighting woolly mammoths, it has to be at least worth a look.

Sunday 10 June 2018

Forty years ago today - June 1978.

YouTube's currently offering me videos that prove beyond all doubt that various men in garden sheds have invented perpetual motion machines. That can only mean it's time for me to take flight from such First Law of Thermodynamics thwarting madness and leap once more from the Cliff of Contemporaneousness, into the Ocean of Once-Upon-A-Long-Ago and find out what our favourite Marvel heroes were up to back in the days when the only perpetual motion machine we needed was a nodding duck with a felt beak, drinking coloured liquid from a beaker. Tell kids nowadays that nodding ducks and lava lamps were the only forms of entertainment we had back in the 1970s and they don't believe you.

Avengers #172 Hawkeye returns

Hooray! Hawkeye is back!

Other than that, I can say nothing of this tale, apart from the fact that its villain would appear to be someone called Tyrak, of whom I have never heard.

Regardless, it's nice to see suitably shocked floating heads on the cover.

Conan the Barbarian #87, Stalkers of the Summit

Not for the first time in his life, Conan finds himself up against a giant spider-thing. I have no doubt that, by the end of the tale, it'll be flat on its back, with a sword in its intestines.

In other news, I'm informed that, in this issue, Conan wipes out an ancient race.

Isn't that a bit irresponsible of him?

Fantastic Four #195, Sub-Mariner

Apparently, Sue Storm's involved in sensational solo action. Admittedly, it seems to be solo action that involves the Sub-Mariner, so you could argue that it's not technically solo action at all.

But it's interesting to see that our heroes are up against the Rampaging Retrievers. Presumably, the Larcenous Labradors were too busy to appear.

Incredible Hulk #224, the Leader and his tripod

We don't just get the return of Hawkeye this month. We also get what looks to be the return of the Murder Module.

Bearing in mind that the Hulk took about three seconds to destroy it the last time the Leader tried to use it, you do wonder why the villain's bothering to make a second attempt with it.

But am I right in believing that the Hulk the Leader's up against, this time round, is just a robot, controlled by Bruce Banner?

Iron Man #111

I really don't have a clue what's going on on that cover. But, then, I don't have a clue what's going on inside the comic either.

I do know that the Knights of Wundagore are in it but that the High Evolutionary isn't, except in flashback. The Rigellians are also in it. Madame Masque is in it. Jasper Sitwell is in it. Jack of Hearts and the Crimson Dynamo are in it. How Marvel managed to cram all of that into twenty pages, and how it all fits together, is beyond me.

Spectacular Spider-Man #19, the Enforcers

It's time to tremble with fear, as the Enforcers return. And, this time, they're being employed by the Lightmaster, who's even deadlier than the Viewmaster.

Given their previous track record, I really don't see why anyone would hire the Enforcers to tackle Spider-Man. You might as well hire Jerry Lewis.

Captain America and the Falcon #222, Abraham Lincoln

It's the fight that had to happen! Captain America vs Abraham Lincoln!

I must admit that's the limit of my knowledge when it comes to this tale. Is the Falcon still in the strip? He's credited in the title but he doesn't seem to make the covers anymore.

X-Men #111

This issue, we get the build-up to the return of Magneto, as the X-Men get captured by a man who, I think, turns out to be Mesmero.

Why he doesn't turn out to be Mastermind, I couldn't say but the tale does at least see the return of the Beast to the pages of the world's greatest mutant-based publication.

Thor #272

This month's issue doesn't exactly sound riveting. It would appear that Thor stands around telling some kids about an adventure he once had with Loki in regards to a meeting with the Master of Utgardthall. I don't think they'll be turning that one into a movie, somehow.

Amazing Spider-Man #181

I do believe this issue retells Spidey's origin and has him recount great chunks of his career.

Is this the one where, at the end of it, a cemetery worker steals Uncle Ben's microscope? It was clearly meant to be a heart-warming climax but, as a responsible blog owner, with a duty to the society that reveres me, I really can't approve of stealing the microscopes of deceased uncles.

Thursday 7 June 2018

June 7th, 1978 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

It's time to spin your rattle, knock back a mug of Bovril and chant, "Up the Blades!" because, in the real world of 2018, the planet Earth is gearing up for the festival of football that is the Russian World Cup.

And it was no different forty years ago, except it was in Argentina and it wasn't 2018.

That's right. This week of that year saw the start of the 1978 tournament and, on this very night, BBC One was giving us the twin delights of Brazil vs Spain and Scotland vs Iran, both of which ended in draws.

But if those games were indecisive, there's one group of people who are guaranteed never to be indecisive.

They know that the moment evil shows its face, they have to punch it in the gob, with a force that could knock a man's block off.

And those people are the heroes of our favourite UK Marvel reprint mags.

Star Wars Weekly #18

It's another Star Wars tale that means nothing to me, as the ruthless and deadly Space Savages cause what is, no doubt, no end of mischief.

Far more memorably for me, Star-Lord is having a Flight to Cinnibar, which may be Part 2 of his first ever adventure, while the Watcher is telling us about The Coming of the Krills.

I suspect that latter epic is one of those old Silver Age monster stories repackaged as a Watcher tale.

You have to hand it to Stan Lee. Only he'd think it a good idea to name a terrifying alien foe after seafood.

Marvel UK, Savage Sword of Conan #8

I'm not sure if I like this cover or hate it. It's by Kenneth Morris, an artist I must confess to never having heard of.

Regardless, it's another of those instances of a cover that's been dramatically lightened for the UK market, compared to the US original, and has, in the process, lost a large percentage of its sense of drama.

Rampage #34, the Defenders vs Nebulon

Hooray! Nebulon returns to Earth, in an attempt to convert us all to the ways of peacefulness. No doubt, his method of bringing peace to the world will involve the use of wholesale violence.

Meanwhile, Jack Norriss is in the body of Nighthawk, and Chondu is in the body of a fawn.

In retrospect, it could have been worse. It could have been Chuck Norris in the body of Nighthawk. Then we'd all be in trouble.

Mighty World of marvel #297, Hulk vs Stingray

The Hulk's still fighting Sting-Ray. I'm not sure what for. As far as I can make out, this is one of those tales where a hero attacks the Hulk in an effort to try and calm him down before he can cause any trouble.

What kind of insane plan is that?

Super Spider-Man #278, Namor vs Tiger Shark

Spider-Man and Namor are still fighting the menace of Dr Dorcas and Tiger Shark, and I still have no recollection at all of either the story or the cover. Could it be that I never read it? What dread nightmare is this?

Complete Fantastic Four #37, Power-Man vs the Thing

Judging by his somewhat aggressive attitude, I suspect Luke Cage may still be under the influence of the Puppet Master.

More significantly, judging by who he's fighting, I assume this to be the issue in which Benjy takes to wearing the Thing-shaped exo-skeleton that's designed to enable him to do super-hero stuff again.

Tuesday 5 June 2018

The Marvel Lucky Bag - June 1968.

A mere two days ago, I studied, in-depth, what the major Marvel mags cover-dated, "June 1968," had to tell us about the state of the world at that time.

But, of course, there were things missing.

And those were the adventures of Marvel's lower-profile mags.

So it is that, thanks to the Incredible Steve Does Comics Randomiser TM, I'm now taking a look at the more noteworthy efforts from that month's lesser lights. Can they possibly compete with the big-hitters?

Doctor Strange #169

As the cover proudly proclaims, at last we get the origin of Doctor Strange!

Hold on a minute. Hadn't we already had that?

More importantly, after all these years, thanks to the Marvel Expansion, the good Doctor finally gets his own mag and Marvel celebrate that fact in fine style by labelling it issue #169, meaning casual readers would never know the significance of the mag they held in their hands. You can't imagine a comics company doing that nowadays.

Captain Marvel #2, the Super-Skrull

Our favourite alien invader finds himself up against the Super-Skrull.

I haven't read this tale in almost forty years but I'm going to guess the Super-Skrull attacks the military base where Captain Marvel works, and Marvel has to protect it while making it look to Yon-Rogg that he isn't protecting it, while also trying to protect his secret identity from Carol Danvers, while the onlooking Una gets all jealous of her.

I could be misremembering but I have a feeling that was basically the plot of every early Captain Marvel tale, with only the name of the villain changing.

More epoch-makingly, was this story the first time we were told the Kree and the Skrulls are ancient and deadly enemies?

Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #1, Jim Steranko

Doctor Strange isn't the only one getting his own mag, because so is Nick Fury.

Admittedly, he already had his own mag, in the form of Sgt Fury and his Howling Commandos but now he has one in his secret agent guise as well.

In retrospect, it does seem remarkable that Fury managed to beat all the other Marvel heroes to be the first one to land two books.

Sub-Mariner #2, Triton

With a certain inevitability, Subby comes up against Marvel's other water-based hero.

I've no doubt a misunderstanding leads to a punch-up.

You'd have thought a punch-up between Namor and Triton would be a somewhat one-sided affair but, knowing Marvel logic, you somehow know it won't be.

Mmmmillie the Model #159

It's a Steve Does Comics first appearance for Millie the Model. I have a feeling that, for a long time in the 1960s, her book was Marvel's best-selling comic.

Admittedly, I may have made that up.

Then again, I may not have.

I'm not sure.

If I didn't make it up, what an outrage it is, therefore, that she wasn't included in Infinity War.

Unless the second movie contains the startling plot twist that Nebula is Millie the Model.

I could kind of see that being true.

Come to think of it, Karen Gillan once played Jean Shrimpton in a movie.

Could this really be no more than coincidence?

The more I think about it, the more certain I am that it couldn't be.

Regardless, I've never read a Millie the Model story. I do note that the cover has an Archie Comics feel to it. I assume that that also is not mere coincidence.

Sunday 3 June 2018

Fifty years ago this month - June 1968.

June of 1968 was a great time for everyone who's ever wanted to live in a community made entirely of plastic bricks, because it was the month in which the first ever Legoland was opened, in Denmark. Fifty years later, there are eight Legolands, in seven nations. None of them is within walking distance of my house, which is an outrage.

It wasn't such a good time for people who wanted to live in New York apartment blocks that aren't packed solid with Satanists, though, because it was also the month in which Rosemary's Baby made its Devilish US premiere.

It was even less of a good time for fans of classic British comedy, because it was also the month in which legendary comic actor Tony Hancock died in New South Wales, thanks to a combination of amylobarbitone and vodka. Amazingly, he was only 44 at the time of his death.

Avengers #53, vs the X-Men

For me, it's one of the less interesting Avengers tales of this era, as our heroes take on the X-Men for reasons I can't recollect but which probably had something to do with the search for Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch.

I'm certain Magneto is involved and I have a horrible feeling that, fleeing the scene, at the climax, he abandons the Toad.

What a bounder. I always knew he was a wrong 'un.

Captain America #102, the Sleeper

Cap's still trying to stop the Red Skull's latest Sleeper and still, as far as I can remember, has a strip of nuclear tape stuck to him that'll blow him to Kingdom Come if he doesn't do something or other.

Daredevil #41, the death of Mike Murdock

The comic-book lovers of the world mourn as Mike Murdock meets his dread fate.

In the interests of honesty, I must declare that I see the death of Mike Murdock as one of the greatest things ever to have happened in the history of humanity and, for the life of me, I can't understand why there isn't a global holiday to celebrate it.

Fantastic Four #75, Galactus is back

Galactus may have given his word to never again try to destroy the Earth but that doesn't stop him threatening to destroy the Earth.

This time, he's going to do it if the FF don't hand over the Silver Surfer, in a tale that leads to the return of Psycho-Man.

Incredible Hulk #104, the Rhino

How can the Hulk possibly survive a confrontation with the Rhino, a man who's previously only ever been stopped by a single punch from Spider-Man?

Oh. Hold on. Wait a minute.

In fairness, the story doesn't leave you in any doubt that the Rhino's totally out of his depth in this encounter, to such a degree that the fight leaves him in a coma.

Iron Man #2

I do believe this issue sees the departure of Genial Gene Colan and the arrival of Johnny Craig.

I don't remember what Johnny Craig's nickname was. I assume it wasn't, "Jazzy." That was already taken. I don't think it was, "Jaunty," either. I think that belonged to Jim Mooney. And he certainly wasn't, "Judo," Johnny Craig. Perhaps he was, "Jovial," Johnny. That'd be nice for him.

As for the tale, from what I can recall, driven by envy of Tony Stark, a mad scientist creates a robot and sets it loose to cause nothing but trouble.

It sounds a bad situation all round but at least Tony Stark gets a new girlfriend out of it, in Janice Cord.

Amazing Spider-Man #61

It's the conclusion of the Brainwasher saga, as Spidey rescues Gwen and her dad from the deadly machinations of the Kingpin.

Thor #153

My memories are fuzzy but I think that Don Blake has to perform surgery of an unspecified nature upon Sif but then has to rush off to fight some force of evil or other, leaving the other surgeons to wonder what sort of man Blake is that he can abandon a patient halfway through an operation.

If I were them, I'd be asking myself, "Why is Don Blake being allowed to perform major surgery when he's a general practitioner, with a failed practice, and not a surgeon?" They're clearly very laissez-faire in those New York hospitals.

Needless to say, despite all that, it all ends happily and Sif makes a complete and total recovery.

X-Men #45, Quicksilver

I suspect this issue may set up the aforementioned clash with the Avengers. I've definitely read it on more than one occasion but can recall nothing of its contents. Still, it's nice to see an X-Men cover drawn by John Buscema.