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?


Timothy Field said...

The Spider-Man cover has made me realise that the web-head seemed to have more than his fair share of ongoing arm-related injuries/dilemmas during this era.

dangermash said...

This is Hitman's second and final appearance, Steve. First time round was in PPTSSM and also featured the Vulture. There was a great cover with Spider-Man hanging helpless by a chain (or rope?) attached to one of his wrists. In the story, Spider-Man grabs the vulture using his legs, just as Hitman shoots and the shot destroys Vulture's power pack.

And we're down to two proper weekly superhero comics. Presumably featuring Spider-Man, Cap, Thor, Avengers, Hulk, FF, Daredevil and the Invaders. One of them really stands out like a sore thumb. Surely Iron Man or (the new) X-Men would be better than Invaders? Still, good to see the back of some second rate strips this week: Nick Fury, Nova(?), Old FF reprints (?), Captain Marvel (?).

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Always hating on the Invaders... shame, shame , shame... lol

Steve W. said...

Timothy, I bet that, at times like this, he regretted getting rid of those extra ones.

Dangermash, thanks for the Hitman info. I'm afraid that the increasingly close proximity of the UK reprints to the originals is tending to leave me confused as to what stories I have and haven't already covered.

Charlie, there they are, doing their best to defend Britain, and I do nothing but attack them.

Anonymous said...

The cynic in me wonders if by moving the FF and Invaders to MWOM, and putting the FF name on the cover, this qualified MWOM to replace existing orders for the Complete FF (possibly along the lines of the old comic forms 50% of the replacement comic) . I do recall my (reasonably elder) newsagent trying to coerce me into accepting MWOM due to previously having Complete FF on order. 11 year old DW was having non of it, arguing that they were clearly different comics and that Hulk and Daredevil were no compensation for losing vintage Lee and Kirby FF. I still remember the look of defeat on his face, that surely must have been due to bigger issues. He sold the news agency a few months later. Probably unrelated...

21st Century DW realises the decision was probably made in New York, with as little care and attention as he had to Marvel superheroes, or I had to the Beverly Sisters.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Was it Frank Robbins' art work in the Invaders that left a bad taste?

Anonymous said...

And this was MWOM's final merger before the comic came to an end the following January.
But why is the Hulk all alone in the corner box? They could have added the Thing to represent the FF.

The worst thing about the cancellation of The Complete FF was losing the reprints of the early Lee/Kirby stories, which I'd really enjoyed. I'd never read them before as I didn't discover Marvel till late 1974 so I'd missed them first time around in MWOM. Ah, c'est la vie.

Anonymous said...

I was just thinking the other day about the Hitman, because remembering bad comic book villains calms me down and helps me sleep at night, and I wondered why anybody, much less an assassin, would dress in bright orange.
Unless he doubles as a clown at kid's birthday parties. Then again, the big white skull and white boots and gloves the Punisher wears don't make much sense either, particularly if you don't want to be a target.
Okay, I guess I get the skull. The skull is cool.


Anonymous said...


I was actually a fan of the Invaders in their own title but Robbins' style always seemed out of place in the British anthologies. Particularly in a title that sold itself as Complete Fantastic Four. As mentioned above, there were also quite a few more obvious choices of material that was not being published, locally, at the time.


Dougie said...

I remember wanting to know if the DD villain Ramrod was the same one as the alien robot in Iron Man ( he wasn't). I'd read, of course, about the Dark Messiah in that fantastic monster book we both read. I really liked the Moondragon origin sequence.

Seeing the Spidey cover reminds me how the Mantis/ wedding story by Englehart and Heck was being eked out in four-or-five page installments. Mainly though, it reminds I had a bit of an awakening on a school trip to Rothesay this month, at fourteen, over the armpits of a girl named Katie.
I'll stop there.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Sounds like they were playing roulette with the stories to include. Sometimes I'd get the same feeling back when the King Sized .25 Marvel Super Heroes, Marvel Tales, etc. included 4 - 5 stories. It'd be a real hodge podge of stuff with no obvious synchrnocity to it unless it was actually intended to be as random as possible.

Steve W. said...

I suspect that the unkillability of The Invaders, from Marvel UK's viewpoint, was because their stories were mostly set in Britain and the Powers-That-Be in New York assumed that UK readers would love them because of that. How little they knew...

Steve W. said...

Dougie, sexy armpits are a concept you don't hear much about.

Dougie said...

I know; it may have been a step too far this century.

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