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.


Anonymous said...

You seem particularly well informed about the contents of the comics this time round Steve.

Its all a bit of a mystery to me, apart from that Daredevil storyline which I remember from the US original (although I think the Thing part of it must have been from Marvel Two-in-One).
Not Steve Gerber's finest moment.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Hey UK Dudes - is this what you were referring to a few weeks ago... the # of UK titles
shrinking? Just 3 UK titles for the month or is it the week?

(Hey - can you guys wrap up that Brexit stuff... it is cluttering my news feed, LOL! Just kidding about that but man what a barrage of articles today.)

Anonymous said...

Charlie, you lot over there must be relieved that the US aren't the biggest laughing stock in the world anymore.
Brexit is going to run and run, well past Trump (even if he gets a second term) This is just the terms of leaving - they haven't even started negotiating the future relationship with Europe yet, let alone the rest of the world.

No, this isn't the "Marvel UK Revolution" - or whatever they call it, not yet.
And its three weeklies.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Sean - you are actually spot on. For once something vied with the goings-on of the HUman Cheetoh, LOL

I was trying to recall if I ever saw a USA cover with a superhero punching a hole clean through a Sentinel or something similar? Anyone think of such a thing?

Timothy Field said...

Grease was one of the first real cultural phenomenons I can remember. I would have been about 9 or 10 and the school playground was full of girls doing step-perfect song and dance routines from the movie, all without the aid of YouTube tutorials.
Thankfully, I was more interested in Marvel's weeklies at the time.

Anonymous said...

Sean, Brexit sounds like an ugly divorce.
As somebody who spent nearly two and a half years in West Germany in the U.S. Army at the end of the Cold War, I'm saddened to see our government under Trump seem to almost throw away what we've so long invested there in the name of peace and friendship.
But I believe we'll all survive this period very well, and certain parties will end up where they belong, the dustbin of history.


Steve W. said...

Sean, I can recall the Hulk, Daredevil, Fantastic Four, Spider-Man and Avengers stories. All the rest mean nothing to me.

Charlie, don't worry. You'll know when we reach the Dez Skinn Revolution. Mostly because of all the complaining I'll be doing.

Tim, I've still never seen Grease all the way through. I think that, on the one occasion I tried to watch it, I was too disappointed that it wasn't like Happy Days to sit through it all.

MP, who can know what Fate holds in store for us?

Timothy Field said...

You have no idea how relieved I am to hear that the Dez Skinn Marvel 'Revolution' will not be greeted with enthusiasm here.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

I don't get it... (Based solely on Google) This Dez Skinn guy says he single-handedly save Marvel UK as I recall?

(I don't know which hand he used but I am like 99% certain he said only one of his hands saved Marvel UL!)

Anonymous said...

Charlie - yeah, reading Dez Skinn's website he does seem to have a case of Stan Lee syndrome, but its an interesting look into the business side of publishing comics in the UK at that time.

People here don't like what he did at Marvel UK because he refocused the weekly titles, aiming them more at kids (comics for kids - imagine that!)
But to be fair, the monthly titles were aimed at older readers and he also began publishing original material, giving work to artists like John Bolton, Dave Gibbons and Steve Dillon.


Timothy Field said...

Dez definitely pushed up sales but it was only ever going to be temporary. I always felt that it started a spiral descent in what made the Marvel UK weeklies unique.

Dougie said...

I was amused a couple of years ago that the local church-based amdram group put on Grease, featuring several pupils from my school. People were enflamed on Facebook when I pointed out that there was little that was churchy about its themes. Exhibit A: "pussy wagon".
Summer Nights is burned on my brain by Top of the Pops but I always preferred You're The One...Anyway, Beauty School Dropout is the wittiest song and Those Magic Changes, the most touching.

Dez Skinn's era really had a negative impact on my love for the weeklies but I'm perhaps a lone voice for those Gerber DD stories. I liked them much more than the Isabella/ Wolfman issues that follow but then, I can't bear Wolfman's writing.

Anonymous said...

Dougie, completely agree with you about Wolfman's writing; but not as bad as Marv Wolfman isn't really much of a critical standard.
For instance - Gerry Conway's run on the FF wasn't as bad as Marv Wolfman's. Thats not saying much, is it?