Thursday 29 November 2018

November 29th, 1978 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

It's time to put on your leopard-skin trousers and strut that glitzy stage because, in this week of forty years ago, Rod Stewart finally found his true calling in life and hit the Number One slot on the UK singles chart, as a bona fide Disco god.

That's right, it was the week in which Do Ya Think I'm Sexy? torpedoed its way to the top and sank his credibility forever.

Then again, I say that but I've always liked it, seeing Rod as a man who benefits from having zero credibility, and also thanks to me being someone who's found peace with the ways of Disco.

Plus, I suspect that, deep in his heart, Rod always wanted to be a Disco god anyway.

But what of Marvel UK? What was it up to while all this was going on?

Star Wars Weekly #43

Hold on to your hats because it looks like Roger Whittaker's about to lay the lightsabre smack-down on some space ruffians.

Either that or Obi-Wan Kenobi's still alive.

How that can be when I saw him disintegrated, with my own bare eyes, I cannot say.

Then again, it could be a flashback tale.

Then againerer, it seems Luke Skywalker's also in this tale, which suggests it isn't a flashback.

Where that all leaves us, I haven't a Scooby.

Nor do I have a Scooby about what else happens in this comic. Is Star-Lord still in it? Is he fighting the forces of Space Evil? The answers to these questions are beyond my grasp.

Mighty World of Marvel #322, the Hulk

I've no idea what's going on with the Hulk Crusher but I predict it'll totally fail in its aim of crushing the Hulk.

Elsewhere, Daredevil and Shanna the She-Devil are making a right Horlicks of tackling the Silver Samurai, and Shanna's still out for revenge on the Mandrill.

For some reason, Foggy Nelson's in a wheelchair but the cause of his predicament is unknown to me.

Super Spider-Man #303, The Angel and Iceman

A hypnotised Iceman's out to kill Spider-Man and the Angel.

Meanwhile, Thor's still battling Ego the living planet.

Or at least he was. This issue, he manages to get possessed by Ego who's rapidly taking action to defend himself and his population from a nearby exploding sun. It all sounds very dramatic and I have faith it'll all end happily.

I also predict it'll all end happily for Captain America and the Falcon who're still having trouble with the Grey Gargoyle who's stolen something or other that you wouldn't want him to steal.

Elsewhere, the Avengers are trying to deconundrumise the Serpent Crown on an alternate Earth and are still all set to fight the Squadron Supreme. Back on our world, Hank and Jan are having an argument about whether to rejoin the team, while, on the other Earth, the president's acting weirdly.

I predict he'll turn out to be the Beast in disguise.

Either that, or he'll just turn out to be weird.

Sunday 25 November 2018

But wait! I don't understand!

The comics of my youth were legendarily notable for their adherence to strict logic and intellectual consistency. Even so, there were things in them that I never understood and, because I've no good ideas for a post today, I thought I'd list a few of them, in the hopes that answers might be forthcoming.

I could understand how unstable molecules could enable Reed Richards' clothing to stretch but how, exactly, could the Human Torch set himself alight and then, when he returned to normal, his clothes, which had previously been aflame, were totally undamaged?

For that matter, how could the Invisible Girl still see when she was invisible? Surely, light rays would just pass through the backs of her eyeballs?

Why didn't Bruce Banner ever move to somewhere peaceful, in order to avoid excitement? For a man terrified of drama, it seemed odd that he always hung around permanently-besieged military bases.

Just how could the Hulk leap vast distances, while the Thing, who wasn't that much weaker and was lighter, only seemed to be able to jump a few feet?

Would Thor's technique of spinning his hammer round and round and round and then letting it pull him through the sky actually work? I mean, the fact that I've never seen anyone do it would imply that it wouldn't but I can't think of any reason why it wouldn't.

How did Spider-Man cling to walls when he was wearing gloves and boots?

How did he take perfect photos with a camera that was hanging from some webbing and just randomly pointed at nowhere in particular?

How did the Green Goblin's eyes work? They clearly weren't Norman Osborn's real eyes but seemed to be the Green Goblin's real eyes, even though they were part of a mask.

How did the Angel manage to hide those gigantic wings underneath a business suit?

When Cyclops blasted something with his massively powerful optical blasts, why didn't it knock him off his feet? And, surely, if he hit the Juggernaut with one, the impact would break his own neck?

How did the Sub-Mariner fly with those tiny little ankle wings and how come they seemed to propel him with the speed of a rocket?

Why did the Atlanteans' hair always hang normally, even though they were underwater?

How did Iron Man bend his arms and legs, when his armour had no joints in it? I know Marvel once tried to claim his arm and leg armour was made of chain mail but that clearly wouldn't have the rigidity and strength-giving powers his outfit clearly possessed.

Then again, just how did transistors enable him to fire pebbles that would quickly grow to the size of boulders, or to massively increase the strength of magnets, or to project multiple images of himself? I still don't know what transistors actually are but I suspect they can't do any of those things.

As the Silver Surfer had the power of time travel, why didn't he just travel forwards or backwards to an era when Galactus' space barrier didn't exist, and then leave Earth?

Why did the Leader need a brain that was two foot tall, in order to contain his massive intellect, when he didn't seem to be any more intelligent than Reed Richards who only had a normal-sized brain?

How did Wonder Woman find her invisible plane? And how did she find the controls when she was flying it?

Why did Bruce Wayne decide to dress up as a bat, in order to instill fear into criminals, when, if I was robbing a bank and a man turned up dressed as a bat and claiming to be called, "Batman," I'd just roll around laughing?

Also, how did Batman get all those giant-sized items of memorabilia, like the huge coin and the robot dinosaur, into his Batcave, bearing in mind its entrance was barely big enough for a car to get through? For that matter, did he have a permit for that nuclear reactor?

How come Jim Corrigan hadn't arrested a single criminal since 1940 but never lost his job?

Where did the Super-Pets live when they weren't in a story? Were they just abandoned in the Fortress of Solitude and left to starve?

How were both Mon-El and Superboy allowed to be members of the Legion of Super-Heroes when the team's constitution said that all members had to have a unique power?

The Phantom Stranger. Did he have a house? Did he live in it?

Those are just a few of the questions that haunted and tormented my childhood. You may have answers to them.

Then again, you may have questions of your own which have always needed answering. If so, feel free to share them in the comments section below and, who knows, maybe some of us may finally be able to come up with much-needed solutions.

Thursday 22 November 2018

November 22nd, 1978 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

In the absence of anything much interesting happening to the world in this week of forty years ago, I shall dive straight into the maelstrom and see what our favourite UK comics company was doing to make up for it.

Star Wars Weekly #42

It's the one we've all been waiting for, as our heroes come up against Darth Vader again.

Other than Vader being involved, I've not one clue as to what happens in this issue.

I do suspect there'll be no mention of him being Luke and Leia's father, nor of Leia being Luke's sister, nor of R2-D2 and C-3PO being husband and wife.

I don't know, the things you can forget to mention when you're having an intergalactic punch-up.

I also assume that, in his back-up strip, Star-Lord's still tangling with the ship whose inhabitants want to blow up a planet. It sounds to me like they should get together with Darth Vader.

Mighty World of Marvel #321, the Hulk

The Hulk's still battling against the Sentinels' Master Mold, with the help of the Angel and Iceman. I suspect this may be the John Byrne drawn tale's final instalment but don't quote me on that.

I know nothing of what the FF, Iron Man and DD are up to but I suspect they're still continuing their respective struggles with Annihilus, Mikas and the Mandrill.

I do know the back cover is once more advertising that sonic-controlled car that'd cost you £75 in modern money.

More enticingly, for violent skinflints like me, it also features an ad for Super Bop Bags, those inflatable thingies you can partially fill with water and then, no matter how hard you hit them, they spring straight right back up again.

Admittedly, that must get somewhat frustrating after a while. When I hit a bag, I expect it to stay hit.

Regardless, the ones advertised this issue are themed around Superman and Batman and you can get them for £1.99 each, which is £10.91 in today's money.

To be honest, £10.91 seems a lot of money for something that doesn't have the sense to stay down when I hit it.

Super Spider-Man #302, the Angel

This is a curious one. For some reason, this cover is a Ron Wilson redrawing of John Byrne's original frontage for Spectacular Spider-Man #17. Why Marvel didn't just use the original version, I have no idea.

Anyway, Spidey and the Angel are taking on someone called Rampage who's, allegedly, an old enemy of the Champions and is using Iceman for nefarious purposes.

Elsewhere, on an alternate Earth, the Avengers and Squadron Supreme are looking forward to knocking each others' blocks off, in a tussle on behalf of the Serpent Crown, and Hellcat's looking forward to showing off what she can do in a scrap.

Sunday 18 November 2018

2000 AD - October 1980.

Being an international master criminal of Blofeldesque proportions, I was never going to be a fan of any band bearing the name of, "The Police," but, in October 1980, I had good reason to be grateful to the reggae tormenting trio.

That was because their single Don't Stand So Close To Me was the only thing keeping Ottawan's nightmarish D.I.S.C.O. off the top of the UK singles chart. How I prayed for Ottawan to evaporate from the face of the planet. And still they didn't.

Granted, I don't know how a band would go about the task of evaporating but that doesn't mean I wouldn't have appreciated them making the effort.

And it wasn't only the Police I had to be grateful to because their single was succeeded at Number One by Barbra Streisand's Woman in Love which also achieved the heartwarming feat of keeping Ottawan off the top slot.

On the UK album chart, just two LPs hit the UK pinnacle that month. They were David Bowie's Scary Monsters and Super Creeps and Zenyatta Mondatta by the aforementioned Police.

Of Ottawan on that album chart, there was no sign. Clearly, the French fiascomongers lacked the stamina for a forty minute assault on Popular Music.

But you know what didn't lack the stamina necessary for long-term success?

2000 AD, that's what, and Prog 180 gave us Part 25 of Judge Dredd's Judge Child saga. And to think I'd previously viewed the Kree/Skrull War as being of epic length.

But, hold on, as far as I can make out, the very next issue saw the day we thought would never arrive, because it seems to have featured the 26th and final part of the tale.

Elsewhere, nothing much on those covers is ringing any bells for me but I see that Prog 183 featured the Meltdown Man. Whether he was any relation to the Piltdown Man, I have no idea. The name does ring a bell and he was clearly drawn by Massimo Belardinelli but all I can ascertain is that, in a twist on the Planet of the Apes formula, Melty finds himself on a future Earth populated by talking beast-men who're being oppressed by the local humans.

And that does launch a mystery. From Googling images of the Meltdown Man, it's blindingly obvious his look was modelled on Kurt Russell's Snake Plissken of Escape From New York fame.

There's only one problem with that.

And that's that Escape From New York didn't come out until nine months after this. Was Belardinelli clairvoyant? Was Snake Plissken based on the Meltdown Man? Was it all some bizarre coincidence that could confound the gods themselves?

I cannot say. I am as confounded as those gods.

But I do know that that creature on the cover of Prog 181 reminds me of the weird mutant baby thing at the end of Alien: Resurrection.

Unlike with Snake Plissken, I am certain this is coincidence.

2000 AD Prog 180, Judge Dredd

2000 AD Prog 181, Strontium Dog

2000 AD Prog 182, Judge Dredd

2000 AD Prog 183, Meltdown Man

Thursday 15 November 2018

November 15th, 1978 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

This week of forty years ago proved a blessed relief for all haters of the movie Grease because it was the week in which John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John's Summer Nights was finally knocked off the UK Number One slot by the Boomtown Rats' Rat Trap.

I've heard some unkind souls suggest the Boomtown Rats were the only Punk group never to make any actual Punk records, and it's true that Rat Trap clearly owes far more to the E Street Band than it does to the Sex Pistols, while Bob Geldof's onstage mannerisms often bore an uncomfortable resemblance to those of B.A. Robertson.

Still, after seven weeks of Travolta and Newton-John hogging the top spot, it was an occasion comparable to VE Day when that slab of sax-heavy social commentary ascended to chart supremacy.

It wasn't all good news for the Grease resistant, though. Three of the top four slots on the British singles chart were still taken by songs from that movie, and the Original Soundtrack was still residing at Number One on the album chart.

If it was a great week for fans of Bob Geldof and Johnnie Fingers, it was an even better one for lovers of bread - and I don't mean the band. Apparently, it was in this week that panic buying of loaves ended as previously striking bakers went back to work.

The Boomtown Rats at Number One and bread in our stomachs? What more could we ask of life?

We could ask for comics.

And we got them.

Star Wars Weekly #41, Darth Vader

At last! Luke Skywalker gets another crack at Darth Vader!

I've a suspicion Darth will not be revealing himself to be Luke's father in this tale. Clearly, it must have slipped his mind.

Elsewhere, Star-Lord's sneaking aboard a spaceship which belongs to some naughty people who want to blow up a planet.

The back cover features another of those football related Smiths Crisp adverts. This one informs us that the longest-ever FA Cup tie lasted 9 hours and 22 minutes and involved Stoke beating Bury in 1955.
Mighty World of Marvel #320, Hulk vs Sentinels

Speaking of tussles that seem to have been going on forever, the Hulk's still battling the Sentinels' Master Mold.

Elsewhere, Reed Richards is trapped in the Negative Zone and forced by fate to forge an unlikely alliance with Annihilus.

Meanwhile, the Black Widow's under the control of Nekra, and Daredevil's still in partnership with the Thing.

Iron Man's up against the Night Phantom, and the Guardsman's fighting Captain America.

It's clearly all go go go in this issue.

Super Spider-Man #301, the Angel

The Champions have disbanded and their skyscraper's up for sale but that doesn't stop the Angel and Iceman getting involved in all kinds of intrigue.

Come to think of it, the Angel and Iceman are also in this week's Hulk tale. Obviously, the cessation of the Champions has left them with an awful lot of time on their hands.

One group of people who definitely don't have time on their hands are the Avengers who're in a parallel dimension and up against the Squadron Supreme, thanks to sinister shenanigans of the Serpent Crown.

Not to be outdone for excitement, Thor, Hercules, Firelord and Galactus are up against Ego the living planet.

In more Earthbound fare, Captain America and the Falcon are battling the Grey Gargoyle.

Tuesday 13 November 2018

The Marvel Lucky Bag - November 1978.

There are some people who you start to think are going to buck the trend of history and find a way to live forever.

Stan Lee was one of them.

But, sadly, even, "The Man," had to go eventually and that departure does provoke a genuine sense of loss.

Whatever the endless and ultimately unwinnable arguments about who did and didn't create what at Marvel, there's no doubt about one thing; Lee was the voice of Marvel. He was what gave the company a public persona that was hipper, cornier, deeper, more vibrant, human and dynamic than those of its rivals. And, in tying all those 1960s Marvel mags together, with his vision of what a super-hero should be - tormented by inner turmoil and cursed with feet of clay - he created a sense that all Marvel characters lived in the same universe and could bump into each other at any moment; and that you could bump into them too, if you ever happened to visit New York.

It was an approach that not only helped Marvel establish comic book industry dominance by the 1970s but also went on to give it cinematic dominance, decades later.

The truth is the comic book as an art form never had a better salesman. Even people who've never read a Marvel comic, and never will, know of Stan Lee and the heroes that he and artists like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko created.


There's no doubt about it, Stan Lee and his collaborators created more successful comics than it's possible to shake a Skrull at but it's the second Tuesday of the month and that means it's time for me to take a look at what some of Marvel's less successful titles were doing in the issues cover-dated this month of forty years ago.

Black Panther #12, the agents of Kiber

Hooray! The Black Panther's up against the Agents of Kiber!

No, I have to admit it, I don't have a clue who they are but they sort of look like evil counterparts to the astronauts in Jack Kirby's version of 2001, so they have both my interest and intrigue aroused.

Invaders #34, the Destroyer

The Invaders gets plenty of abuse on this site but it always seems to get included in this feature, whereas plenty of other titles don't.

I can't help feeling it's because it always had more intriguing covers than a lot of those other books could muster.

Apparently, in this one, the Destroyer becomes an honorary Invader and the gang head back to America to fight that pesky rapscallion Master Man.

But what on Earth is Union Jack's advertised new super-power? Only a month ago, he gained the powers of Thor. He must be getting fed up of acquiring new super-powers, at this rate.

Machine Man #8

I've no idea what happens in this one but I've not featured Machine Man in ages, so I thought I'd best include him.

Marvel Comics, Kiss

It's what we've all been crying out for! Kiss get their very own Marvel comic!

Admittedly, I didn't cry out for it. The only reason I'd ever heard of Kiss in the 1970s was because of Marvel giving them their own comic. If their music ever got played on British radio, it totally bypassed me.

They did, of course, make more of a UK chart impact in the early to mid 1980s.

Not that they were likely to care too much about that. Judging by that cover, they were too busy having to deal with Ming the Merciless.

The Astonishing Spider-Man, Marvel Treasury Edition #18

It's something of a surprise to me to discover that Marvel Treasury Editions were still going in late 1978. I always see them as a mid 1970s thing.

In this edition, Spidey teams up with the X-Men to tackle Morbius. I can't help feeling that's an awful lot of people to tackle just one vampire.

Elsewhere, Spidey and Werewolf by Night join forces to take on someone called Moondark who wants to take over San Francisco.

After that, Spidey and Ghost Rider team up to take on a foe who I think might be the Orb.

And, finally, Spidey and Iron Fist unite to tangle with Drom.

Was he the man who lived his life backwards? If so, it's the only one of these tales I've ever read, thanks to Iron Fist's adventures appearing in the pages of Marvel UK's Avengers mag.

The observant reader will, of course, have already realised that all of these tales are from Marvel Team-Up, meaning this is really a Marvel Team-Up Treasury Edition, even if Marvel's Powers-That-Be aren't admitting to it.

Red Sonja #12

Red Sonja's comic may not have pulled up any trees and have been somewhat short-lived but you have to love a warrior woman.

You also have to love that cover by Frank Brunner.

Devil Dinosaur #8

It's more Kirby weirdness for the world's pinkest dinosaur.

According to Walt Simonson, this cover was the only time in his career that he ever got to ink the work of Jack Kirby.

Alice in Wonderland, Marvel Classics Comics #35

Marvel gives us its take on Alice in Wonderland, a book that I still don't think I've ever read. Nor have I ever managed to sit all the way through any cinema or TV adaptations.

Sunday 11 November 2018

Forty years ago today - November 1978.

There's nothing quite like sitting there, as a giant pair of curtains parts to reveal the latest Hollywood epic that's going to change your life.

In fairness, if they'd parted in November 1978, you probably wouldn't have had your life changed, but there were some movies of interest came out that month.

For instance, it saw the release of Magic, Watership Down and the animated version of The Lord of the Rings.

It also saw the release of Caravans, Paradise Alley and Same Time, Next Year.

Clearly, it was all good news for Mike Batt's bank manager because Batt wrote the theme songs to both Caravan and Watership Down, meaning he wasn't going to have worry about affording Christmas presents that year.

Neither was John Hurt who was in both Watership Down and The Lord of the Rings.

Avengers #177

On the other hand, the Avengers might not even live to see Christmas. Things aren't looking good for them as they find themselves up against Michael Korvac.

From what I can make out, this issue seems to guest star just about every character who'd ever previously appeared in a Marvel Comic. Clearly, the tale's author Jim Shooter was determined to give us our money's worth.

Conan the Barbarian #92, the thing in the crypt

Hooray! It's the return of the helmet Conan wore in Zukala's Daughter, all those years earlier.

I know it seems unlikely that a man could become emotionally attached to a barbarian's hat but it featured in the first Conan tale I ever read, so it left a major impression on me.

As for this tale, it seems to involve Conan running into a cave and accidentally bringing a skeleton to life. Frankly, how anyone survived the Hyborian Age is a mystery to me, the sheer ubiquity of occult menaces that were lurking behind every door.

Despite the cover's boast that it's an, "All-new tale," I do believe it's actually adapted from a story by L. Sprague De Camp and Lin Carter and that I read their original version sometime in 1991.

But that was a long time ago and I can, therefore, recall little of it, other than its title.

Daredevil #155, the Black Widow

Hooray! The Black Widow is back in a Daredevil tale, in which Hornhead shows his smarts by attacking the Avengers mansion.

Admittedly, it could be explained by the fact he's been suffering from a headaches lately.

Death-Stalker's also in this tale. Whether he's to blame for our hero's headaches, I cannot say.

Fantastic Four #200, Dr Doom

Marvel's first super-team reach their 200th issue and, of course, do it by fighting Dr Doom.

I do believe this is the one in which Doom loses control of Latveria and democracy breaks out.

Call me sceptic but I suspect it won't last.

Incredible Hulk #229. Doc Samson and Moonstone

I don't have a clue what happens in this tale but I'm assuming, from the cover, that Doc Samson hasn't realised yet that Moonstone's a bad guy.

Spectacular Spider-Man #24, Hypno-Hustler

It's the story that had to happen!

Spidey goes Disco!

Just when I thought Marvel couldn't come up with a naffer attempt to jump on a craze than the Rocket Racer, the book tops even that by giving us the Hypno-Hustler.

You only have to take a single look at him on that cover to know he's going to be one of the most disastrously misconceived creations in the history of humanity.

Amazingly, for a story set in a disco, this tale would appear to feature no sign of the Dazzler.

Then again, perhaps she hadn't been invented yet.

X-Men #115, Sauron

Sauron's causing trouble in the Savage Land.

Or is he?

I seem to remember that, in his human form, he's one of the good guys in this tale and that the real bad guys are Zaladane and Garokk who're up to some misdeeds or other in a big citadel built over lava, and that it threatens the survival of the entire Savage Land.

Or possibly the entire world.

Or something.

Captain America #227, the Red Skulls

I've no idea what happens in this tale, other than that it involves the Red Skull and an inevitable Bucky Barnes flashback.

To be honest, I think I could live without another Bucky flashback. I mean, just imagine if every Spider-Man story featured a Gwen Stacy flashback. It'd start to send you mad.

Thor #277, Hela

This is more like it. Just as Thor and Sif are gearing up for a holiday together, Hela decides to invade Asgard.

I admit it, I'm on her side.

Iron Man #116

I don't know anything about this tale but the Ani-Men and Spymaster are in it.

There's also a Thor advert for Hostess Fruit Pies.

Amazing Spider-Man #186

This is a shock for me.

For some reason, I'd always assumed this cover was created specially for Marvel UK's relaunched Spider-Man Comic in 1979. It just has that sort of look about it.

Therefore, it's a bit of a revelation to discover it was taken from an issue of The Amazing Spider-Man.

And what a landmark issue it is because, in it, everyone's favourite wall-crawler's informed that all charges against him have finally been dropped.

Not that the Chameleon's willing to see it stay that way. He pretends to be Spidey at a press conference, to make him look bad, and it takes Flash Thompson to get everyone to see sense.

Apart from J Jonah Jameson who doesn't see sense and still has it in for Spidey.

Thursday 8 November 2018

November 8th, 1978 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

Once more it's a Thursday and once more it's time for me to smash down the doors of History, charge into the hallways of Nostalgia and seek to discover what magical gems our favourite comics company was offering us in this week of forty years ago.

Star Wars Weekly #40

As so often with Star Wars Weekly, I recall nothing of this issue's contents.

Admittedly, that's not strictly true. I do recall the phrase, "Cosmic kill creature."

Exactly what the cosmic kill creature is and why it's in such a bad mood is something I can, however, shed no light upon

I can, though, announce that this week's back cover features an ad for a sonic-controlled Mercedes.

Not a real one, obviously - such things as that only exist in James Bond movies. This was a toy version and it could be yours for £12.99 which works out at a whopping £71 in today's money. Frankly, I wouldn't pay £71 for anything that's being advertised on the back of a comic.

In contrast, this comic's price tag of 10p works out at 55p in current prices.

Mighty World of Marvel #319, the Hulk vs the Sentinels

In a stunning move guaranteed to rock the world of comics, Marvel UK has stopped obscuring the cover of its flagship title with that banner which used to declare the Hulk to be TV's Number One TV star. Did this mean he was no longer TV's Number One TV star? Did it mean Marvel had had complaints about it ruining the covers? Did it mean that someone had just forgotten to do it?

I have no idea.

When it comes to the contents, I am slightly more clued up. The Hulk, Angel and Iceman have been captured by the Sentinels - but not for long, as it takes the Hulk about three seconds to escape from his escape-proof jam jar.

Elsewhere, the Thing is helping Daredevil fight a mysterious female foe with the ability to control men's minds.

When I say, "helping," he basically spends a chunk of the tale in the thrall of the bad guy and DD has to rescue him by instantly teaching himself how to fly the Fantasticar.

Super Spider-Man #300

Hooray! Many Marvel UK comics may have fallen by the wayside, over the years, but the company's second title hits the 300 issue mark and does so with the tale that involves Spider-Man visiting Uncle Ben's graveside and looking back on his career as a crime fighter.

It's a chain of events which leads to a cemetery nightwatchman stealing our hero's microscope in what's meant to be a heart-warming manner but, let's face it, stealing things from gravesides is a dubious practice at best.

I'm also not convinced that the cover's claim that this is the most requested Marvel story of all time is completely true. I'm sure more people requested to see the Hulk vs Thor than demanded to see Spider-Man hanging around a grave and having flashbacks.

Tuesday 6 November 2018

The Marvel Lucky Bag - November 1968.

Last week, I survived Halloween. This week, I survived Guy Fawkes Night. Truly I  am on a roll beyond human imagination.

And you know who was on a roll in this month of fifty years ago?

Mary Hopkin, Joe Cocker and Hugo Montenegro because each of them claimed the Number One spot on the UK singles chart in that four week period, thanks to the tracks Those Were the Days, With a Little Help From My Friends and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

When it came to the album chart, the UK top spot that November belonged to just two LPs, Greatest Hits by the Hollies and The Sound of Music by the people from The Sound of Music.

Those were human beings who were sustaining a high profile at the time but what of the Marvel Comics publications that were of a noticeably lower profile? What were they up to in the mags that were just being removed from the news racks as that month began?

Captain Marvel #7, Quasimodo

Captain Marvel fights Quasimodo in a story I think I may have read in an early issue of The Titans.

Beyond that, I remember little. Does it involve the good captain being attacked by a bunch of robots dressed as people from the 19th Century? Or was that a totally different story altogether?

Doctor Strange #174

According to the Grand Comics Database, our hero's battling someone called Lord Nekron who's struck a bargain with Satannish that he'll be gifted immortality, provided he finds a mystic to take his place within twelve months. I would assume that means the mystic he's got in mind is the doctor himself.

I've no memory of ever having read this tale but I feel confident in asserting that Lord Nekron's bound to be unrelated to the character Nekron who turned up in an issue of the JLA I once read.

Fantastic Four Annual #6, Annihilus

It's a landmark issue, as the FF come up against Annihilus for the first time.

If I recall correctly, they have to enter the Negative Zone, in order to find a cure for the pregnant but unwell Sue, which leads to them needing to get their hands on Annihilus' Cosmic Control Rod.

Quite how they knew that a treatment for Sue could be found in the Negative Zone, I have no idea.

Marvel Super-Heroes #17, the Black Knight

It's a momentous day, as Dane Whitman gets a run-out in what I assume is his first solo adventure.

But he's not the only one in action because the original Human Torch also gets a tale in this issue, as do the Sub-Mariner and the All-Winners Squad, giving us a massive 68 pages of action.

Agent of SHIELD #6

It's another classic Steranko cover, as Nick Fury gets space-bound, although Jim doesn't draw the comic's interior.

It would seem that an asteroid is on a collision course with Earth and that it's all the fault of a group of mysterious people living in the Andes, who are up to no good with their force beam.

Amazing Spider-Man Annual #5

At last, Spider-Man learns what happened to his parents -  and it all turns out to be too glamorous and exciting for my liking, with the Red Skull and international espionage involved.

I do feel Peter Parker shouldn't have an exciting back story which incorporates parents who're secret agents. It does somewhat rob him of his down-to-Earth status.

Spectacular Spider-Man #2, the Green Goblin

Spider-Man's second 1960s title may have only lasted for two issues but, in its second outing, it did give us a classic tale, as the Green Goblin returns to cause no end of mischief for our hero.

It's a more nightmarish seeming Goblin than we'd seen before, one armed with strange, psychedelic drugs.

And if that weren't enough to get you buying the thing, how could any sane reader not love that cover?

Sub-Mariner #7

It's a rare use of photos by John Buscema.

I don't have a clue what happens in this issue but it features Tiger Shark and someone called Paul Destine, whom, I suspect, may be out to become president.

Sunday 4 November 2018

Fifty years ago this month - November 1968.

We all know that life's full of ups and downs - and this month in 1968 was no exception.

For instance, it was a terrible time in which to be a Sea-Monkey salesman, thanks to it being the month in which Britain's Trade Descriptions Act came into force, making it illegal for shops and traders to describe goods in a misleading manner. That was all very well and good but now what were X-ray specs manufacturers supposed to do for a living?

It was also a terrible time for anyone who lived on the dark side of the moon and wanted a bit of privacy because it was the month in which NASA announced it'd soon be launching three astronauts to orbit that self-same satellite, via Apollo 8.

It was, however, a good month for fans of confusingly titled double albums, as the Beatles released their twin LP The Beatles which, for some reason, everyone has known ever since as The White Album. I wonder at what point after its release it became the universal practise to know it simply by its nickname and totally ignore its real title?

Avengers #58

It's another classic, from my favourite Avengers era, as the team debate whether to accept the Vision as a new member, and get to explore his origin.

Doesn't this issue also reveal the origin of Ultron, or is that dealt with in a different story?

Captain America #107, Dr Faustus

I do believe this is the yarn in which Dr Faustus makes his psychiatrical debut and proceeds to take all kinds of advantage of Cap's tortured mind.

Needless to say, that means we get plenty of mithering about Bucky.

Daredevil #46, the Jester

Daredevil sets out to bring an end to the Jester's plot to frame him for a murder that never occurred.

Doesn't he do it by appearing on a chat show, dressed as the Jester, in order to troll the villain into revealing the truth about his plan?

Fantastic Four #80

Forget Galactus. It's time to learn the true meaning of fear, as Tomazooma the living totem goes on the rampage in the reservation and Wyatt Wingfoot makes his return.

I seem to remember Tomazooma being revealed to be some sort of hoax perpetrated by an evil company, in order to get its greedy hands on the reservation's natural resources, or something similar

Hulk #109, Ka-Zar

Hooray! It's the first story I ever read which featured Ka-Zar!

How exciting he seemed to be, with his sabre-toothed tiger and his hidden kingdom filled with strange beasties and even stranger people.

It was only later that I discovered just what a disparity there was between him and the Hulk when it came to sheer power and that a fight between them was never going to amount to much.

Still, it did set up the thrillingest Hulk yarn I'd read up to that point in my life.

Iron Man #7, the Gladiator

Fed up of being regularly knocked out by Marvel's weakest hero, the Gladiator decides to take on Iron Man instead.

I can't help feeling that might not be the sort of logic that leads to success.

But does this mean we can look forward to a tussle between Iron Man and Stilt-Man at some point?

And why is, "Stilt-Man," hyphenated and, "Iron Man," isn't?

And why is, "Superman," one word and, "Spider-Man," isn't?

Amazing Spider-Man #66, Mysterio

Speaking of which, it's another of my faves, as Mysterio returns and has concocted yet another plan designed to drive our beloved wall-crawler mad.

Thor #158

I do believe this is the issue which reacquaints us with the tale of how Don Blake discovered the cane that gave him his Thor powers, and makes a start on explaining the mystery of how Thor can simultaneously be a genuine Norse god and an American doctor.

Speaking of mysteries, I don't have a clue who drew that big Thor face on the cover but I'm fairly certain it wasn't Jack Kirby.

X-Men #50

As Sort of the Atom pointed out in last month's comments section, this issue sees the debut of the brand new logo designed by Jim Steranko; not to mention a classic cover.

As well as Lorna Dane and Magnetobot action, this issue gives us the origin of the Beast.