Thursday, 11 October 2018

October 11th, 1978 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

This week of October 1978 must have been a very dull one to live through, seeing as I can find nothing that happened in those seven days that's of any interest to me whatsoever. I do note, though, that the then-current Doctor Who serial was Douglas Adams' The Pirate Planet, which was the first Doctor Who story I remember thinking was terrible. I think it was the space pirate's robot parrot that put me off.

This means that, as so often, I shall have to seek refuge within the pages of whatever madness and mayhem Marvel UK was giving us that week.

Star Wars Weekly #36

Having said that, I'm not going to find much refuge in this one, as I don't have a clue what happens in it. Nor have I been able to find out via the medium of Google. I am going to guess that Star-Lord and Seeker 3000 are still the back-up strips but have no actual evidence to support that claim.

It's striking, however, that this week's cover trumpets that, "The Empire Strikes!" Obviously, this was a couple of years before The Empire Strikes Back was released. So, does this mean someone at Marvel knew what that film was going to be called, or is the similarity to its title pure coincidence?

Mighty World of Marvel #315, the Hulk vs the original Avengers

Good grief! Look at that! Not only are we told the Hulk is, "Marvel's TV Sensation!" but that he has, "Britain's No.1 T.V. Show!" Marvel UK were clearly determined to milk his new-found fame for all it was worth, even to the extent of being willing to deface the key part of the cover in order to do it.

Of more interest to long-standing Marvel fans is the fact that the tale involves the return of the original Avengers -  presumably, in spirit only - as Doc Samson and the Hulk wander around inside the Hulk's mind, revisiting Bruce Banner's past, which I suspect will turn out to not be a happy one.

Elsewhere, Daredevil comes up against the Beetle.

Meanwhile, the back page features an ad for Mr Kalkitos rub-on transfers of the kind that I'm sure we all played with when we were youthful.

Super Spider-Man #296

I was going to say Spider-Man's still up against Dracula but, of course, as discussed last week, he isn't.

He is, however, trying to find a doctor who's urgently needed for some medical procedure or other.

The big twist is that the doctor the various characters are looking for is a woman! Something that seems to blind-side everyone involved in the tale. Was it really so amazing in 1978 that a doctor would be female? I'm sure there must have been female doctors at the time.

Back in the days when there almost certainly weren't too many female doctors around, the Avengers are in the process of breaking into Kang's HQ in the old Wild West, with the aid of the Two-Gun Kid who, interestingly, habitually refers to himself in his own head as, "Two-Gun," rather than using his real name. I'm not sure what Doc Samson would make of that personality quirk.


Anonymous said...

Judging from online comments I've read recently Steve, a female Doctor appears to be causing controversy in 2018 so why wouldn't it cause surprise in 1978?

Looks like that large "Britain's No.1 TV Show" caption was added to obscure that MWOM cover image deliberately - maybe some Marvel UK office wonk had last minute editorial cold feet about it being too violent or something?


Steve W. said...

I also wondered if they were trying to spare us from too much violence with it but I've now looked at the cover of the next issue and the placing of the banner on that one makes no attempt at all to cover up an act of crunching violence against poor old Iron Man.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps "too violent" wasn't the best way of putting it Steve... from what I can see of the image, the head and body of the figure the Hulk's holding (and just about to hit?) are at strange angles to each other. Seems like it might well have looked like a broken neck - probably not intentionally, more likely because its a bad drawing as the non-US covers often were - which would be a bit more of a problem than the cover of #316 (which I've just looked up).

It was barely couple of years after the campaign against IPC's Action, so British comic editors might well have been overly cautious.
But of course its only a theory.


Timothy Field said...

There are a few more weeks of banners obscuring the MWOM covers, worse still they missed the opportunity to have the Hulk attacking is while saying "Hulk hate puny Banner"

Colin Jones said...

Does "this week" in 1978 mean October 4th-11th or October 11th-18th? Anyway, on October 16th 1978 Pope John Paul II began his 27-year reign in the Vatican, following the unfortunate John Paul I who died after a month in office.

As Tim says, there are several more weeks of those banners obscuring the MWOM covers - and what did they mean by "Britain's No.1 TV Show"? If they meant most popular TV show then I'm pretty sure they were wrong - most probably Corrie. But perhaps they meant Britain's best TV show, which was a matter of opinion.

But there's something else notable about that MWOM cover - the masthead says "MWOM featuring The Incredible Hulk" not "MWOM featuring The Incredible Hulk and The Fantastic Four" as it had done since the merger of MWOM and The Complete FF several months previously - the solo Hulk continued for another week then the FF returned to the masthead as if nothing had happened. Typical Marvel UK shambles.

Sean, that MWOM cover isn't a non-US cover. It was the cover of The Incredible Hulk several months previously.

And "The Empire Strikes" is surely a strange coincidence - unless George Lucas was a regular reader of Star Wars Weekly and thought "Hmmm...that would make a good title for a Star Wars sequel".

Steve W. said...

Colin, I take, "This week," to mean October 4th-11th.

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