Sunday, 30 December 2018

2000 AD - November 1980.

It's time once more to leap into the far past, in order to visit the comic of the far future, as we get to see what the Galaxy's Greatest Comic was up to in the November of 38 years ago.

It was a month in which three songs topped the UK singles chart. They were Woman in Love by Barbra Streisand, the distinctly non-autumnal The Tide is High by Blondie and ABBA's Super Trouper which was that band's ninth and final UK Number One.

Amazingly, after that, they only had two more singles make the Top 20 before their demise. I think I've mentioned before the strange phenomenon of major acts following up a Number One single with a dramatic collapse in sales. I believe the last time I mentioned it was in relation to 10cc and their fate after Dreadlock Holiday.

But how different it wasn't on the LP front because, that month, there were just two albums which topped the UK album chart. They were Guilty by Barbra Streisand and Super Trouper by ABBA.

Those were the stars of the pop charts but what of the stars in outer space? The ones that burn brighter than any mere singers? Were they up to anything interesting that month?

I've no idea but I do know that, between November 10th and 12th, the space probe Voyager flew within 77,000 miles of Saturn's cloud tops and sent back the first high-resolution images of that world. Although I suspect that, logically, what it actually sent back were high-resolution images of its clouds, which doesn't sound quite so exciting.

But, of course, even photos of the surface wouldn't have excited 2000 AD's editor Tharg. He was probably visiting Saturn on a daily basis, in his capacity as a space alien.

As always, I recall next to nothing of these comics' innards but I do know that, in Prog 184, Johnny Alpha and Wulf kidnap Hitler. For what purpose, I have no idea.

When it comes to Judge Dredd, the names, "Charles Darwin Block," and, "Otto Sump," do ring bells for me though I recollect little of the stories themselves. Wasn't Otto Sump the ringleader of a fad that made it fashionable to have cosmetic surgery in order to look ugly? Or is that just my imagination?

I don't have a clue who those strange looking characters are on the cover of Prog 185.

When it comes to Prog 187, was The Mean Arena connected to the Harlem Heroes or is any resemblance between the two strips pure coincidence?

2000 AD Prog 184, Judge Dredd Charles Darwin block

2000 AD Prog 185, the dogs of war are here

2000 AD Prog 186, Get Ugly

2000 AD Prog 187

2000 AD Prog 188

Thursday, 27 December 2018

December 27th, 1978 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

You The People have spoken and at last it can be announced. Just what does the human race make of Rick Jones?

Personally, I have a soft spot for him but I'm aware that not everyone agrees with me and, last week, the entire internet was given its chance to cast its verdict on the man who thinks a harmonica is all the protection you need in a nuclear test site.

This is how the voting went:

  • For Rick Jones: 2 votes.
  • Against Rick Jones: 5 votes.
  • Sort of vague and not clear if they're for or against Rick Jones: 3 votes.

I therefore declare Rick Jones to be officially unpopular.

That done, I can look at just what excitement the world was inflicting upon us on this day of exactly forty years ago.

This day in 1978 was a great one for all lovers of TV sci-fi. That morning, BBC One was showing the original Larry (Buster) Crabbe version of Buck Rogers and also The Fantastic Journey, that short-lived series about a group of people trapped in the Bermuda Triangle and having a string of adventures together, starring Roddy McDowall and Jared Martin as a man with a magic tuning fork.

Not only that but, that afternoon, the same channel was giving us a dose of Blake's 7, as the intrepid troublemakers get their hands on Orac for the first time.

Ultimately, none of this matters.

What matters in life is comics.

These are they:

Star Wars Weekly #47

I genuinely have not one clue what happens in this issue, other than that it contains a Star Wars story and, presumably, more action from the life of Adam Warlock.

Mighty World of Marvel #326, Hulk vs Doc Samson and Moonstone

The Hulk's still up against Moonstone, and the FF are still in Agatha Harkness' hometown, in the process of busting out of jail and about to get into a scrap with Salem's Seven.

Daredevil, meanwhile, is in the Florida swamps and on the trail of the Gladiator who's kidnapped Candice Nelson.

And, where the Florida swamps are, can the Man-Thing be far behind?

This issue also features the second part of the Marvel Mastermind 1978 contest. The title of this feature rings a bell but I've no recollection of what was actually involved.

There's also a one-panel ad which features the Human Torch boasting that, "1979 is the year of the Marvel Revolution!" Have any words ever been more designed to strike terror into the hearts of grown men?

Super Spider-Man #307, Lightmaster

Now Spidey's in trouble because Lightmaster is...

...well, I'm not really sure what Lightmaster's doing. By the looks of it, he seems to be physically separating Peter Parker from his Spider-Man alter-ego and shrinking him down to the size of a Labrador but I suspect that's merely artistic license and isn't what he's doing at all.

My knowledge of the rest of this issue is sketchy but I do know the world is waiting, with bated breath, for news from the Avengers Mansion where the team is discussing its future. Thor's already announced he's leaving and, to the Wasp's annoyance, Yellowjacket is in the process of doing likewise.

Dez Skinn Marvel UK Revolution house ad featuring the Human Torch running towards us

Special Bonus Steve Does Comics Postscript:

For all those who demanded it, here's the Human Torch's Marvel UK house ad which announced the impending arrival of Dez Skinn's Marvel Revolution.

How did this site ever survive without its power and majesty?

Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Buy it while it's Hot!

Stephen Walker, Fatal Inheritance, novel, liz sanford, occult investigator, horror, haunted house, danny yates must die, mr landen has no brain
FATAL INHERITANCE.

When a vague acquaintance of her flatmate dies straight after inheriting a haunted house, government occult investigator Liz Sanford finds herself drawn into a mystery upon which the survival of all humanity could hinge.

Will Sanford save us all?

Will she find romance with a man who's the living embodiment of Science?

Will she successfully prevent her flatmate from becoming her sidekick?

And will she ever be able to tell the good guys from the bad guys?

Only, 'Fatal Inheritance,' can tell you. Get it now from: Amazon.comAmazon UK, Smashwords and all other good online book retailers.

Sunday, 23 December 2018

1978's Marvel UK Annuals for 1979.

What were you doing on Christmas Day 1978?

I know what I was doing. I was playing with my Christmas presents and watching TV.

Yes, those were the days when you'd watch whatever was on television, no matter how bad it was, because they hadn't invented the Internet yet and you didn't have a choice.

But just what were we watching?

That morning, ITV gave us Christmas Clapperboard which I would assume was presented, as normal, by Chris Kelly.

At noon, the channel gave us Living Free, the sequel to Born Free, followed by the no-doubt thrilling Christmas Day at Crossroads Motel. I do always feel they should have done a crossover between the Crossroads Motel and the Bates Motel, in order to make it more fun.

Mid afternoon, ITV gave us Battle for the Planet of the Apes and their early evening film was Diamonds Are Forever.

That was followed by The Morecambe and Wise Show, guest-starring Harold Wilson.

Most promisingly, late night, my local ITV station was showing Twist in the Tale. I suspect this may have been a retitled broadcast of the 1977 show Quinn Martin's Tales of the Unexpected but cannot guarantee that.

BBC Two, that afternoon, was broadcasting an adaptation of The Snow Queen.

That evening, it treated us to the not noticeably Christmassy Anne Hughes: Her Boke, in wiche I Write what I Doe, When I Have thee Tyme. Apparently, in the 18th Century, a young farmer's wife wrote a diary. She wrote about her cooking, her quarrels, her butter making and the love story of her maid, and this film re-created it all.

Later on, the channel gave us Fred and Ginger in Swing Time. I must confess I do associate Christmas more with Fred and Ginger than I do with 18th Century farmers' wives.

Meanwhile, that morning, BBC One was treating us to The Spinners at Christmas. They were, of course, the UK Spinners, not to be confused with the US Spinners who were always referred to in Britain as the Detroit Spinners to avoid confusion. It is a strange thing that, all these years later, my only memory of the Spinners is of them doing blood transfusion adverts.

Later that morning, that selfsame channel treated us to Elvis Presley's Clambake. I'm not an expert on The King's cinematic oeuvre but isn't that supposed to be his worst ever celluloid outing?

Early afternoon, before he went completely weird, Noel Edmonds introduced Top of the Pops '78.

Around teatime, the channel gave us the first ever UK television screening of The Sound of Music. This brings back strong memories for me, as I do remember building a Meccano clock while it was on.

Sometime after that, we got The Mike Yarwood Christmas Show. Poor Mike does tend to get a lot of stick these days because all his impressions basically sounded like Mike Yarwood but, let's be honest, all our impressions of famous people from the 1970s are based on his impressions of famous people from the 1970s, rather than on what those people actually sounded like. That's how much impact he had.

After that we got True Grit? A Further Adventure, a TV movie about which I know nothing but it starred Warren Oates as Rooster J. Cogburn.

Later that night, we got the nightmarish sounding Parkinson at the Pantomime, as Michael Parkinson and Arthur Askey explored the world of Panto, with help from Charlie Cairoli, Les Dawson, Lauri Lupino Lane, Little and Large and Pat Kirkwood. I must confess to not previously having heard of Pat Kirkwood but a quick Google search reveals her to have been an old-style British movie star who looked strangely like Marilyn Manson.

But, of course, for all Horror fans and traditionalists, the highlight of BBC One's Christmas Day schedule was bound to be that year's Christmas Ghost Story which was The Ice House by John Bowen. I've no memory of it at all but I can pretty much guarantee I must have watched it. After all, who could turn down the chance to watch a ghost story on Christmas Day?

Well, that was all spiffing and dandy but, before we could sit through all that, we had to read that year's Marvel UK annuals.

And these are what they were:

Marvel UK, Fantastic Four Annual 1979

Up until researching this post, I never even knew this annual existed.

I do now know that, in its first tale, something's changed human history and the FF have to go back in time to team up with the Invaders, in order to prevent the Nazis winning World War II.

Many will be happy to know this tale's drawn by John Buscema and not Frank Robbins. It had originally appeared in the US Fantastic Four Annual #11.

The book's other tale would appear to feature the FF's Human Torch fighting his Golden Age predecessor in the Mad Thinker driven tale that originally appeared in The Fantastic Four Annual #4.

Marvel UK, Incredible Hulk Annual 1979

And here's another one whose existence I was previously unaware of.

As far as I can make out, it reprints the Hulk's first encounter with the Inhumans, from Incredible Hulk King-Size Special #1, the one with the Jim Steranko cover depicting the Hulk straining to support his own name on his back.

The second tale looks to be from The Defenders #52, in which a dodgy Russian called Sergei is plotting to turn himself and the Red Guardian into god-like super-beings.

The story features a punch-up between the Hulk and Namor, hence the cover image.
Marvel UK, Mighty World of Marvel Annual 1979

Unlike the above annuals, I actually had this one.

If memory serves me correctly, it features a very long and not overly interesting tale in which Daredevil and the Panther team up to rescue a youthful kidnap victim, and then a shorter, more interesting tale in which the Beetle and Gladiator attack a train for some reason I can't remember.

Needless to say, the man without fear ensures the dastardly duo end up having to face justice.

The lack of any Mighty World of Marvel regulars apart from Daredevil was a major disappointment to me at the time, although I do now realise it was because the Hulk and FF had their own annuals this year, rather than appearing in their more obvious home.

Marvel UK, Spider-Man Annual 1979

I had this one as well.

This annual's taken up almost entirely by a team-up between Spider-Man and the Human Torch as they go to Hollywood in expectations of movie fame but end up having to tackle the Wizard and Mysterio who have a plan I can't remember.

I do, though, recall that it was drawn by Larry Lieber.

The rest of the book was taken up by various pin-ups, mostly drawn by John Romita, depicting such things as the gang hanging around in the Coffee Bean.

Again, it was a majorly disappointing annual, as the Spidey/Torch tale wasn't exactly awesome.

Marvel UK, Star Wars Annual #1, 1979

I'm not sure to what degree this is genuinely a Marvel UK annual but it is built around a reprint of Howard Chaykin's Marvel adaptation of the movie and features the words, "Stan Lee Presents," on its introductory page, so I assume it must have some kind of link with the company.

Friday, 21 December 2018

While you're here, don't miss out on this masterpiece!

KEEP THOSE THINGS AWAY FROM ME!

When self-declared super-scientist Teena Rama decides to get married, it can only mean trouble for professional failure Danny Yates. Who is the mysterious woman who has jurisdiction over every cave in town? What nightmare terror lurks in an ordinary TV set? Can a chest really possess the power to kill? And how does it involve the unquestioned lord of the deadliest jungle of them all?

Currently possessing a 100% 5-star rating on Goodreads. Available from Amazon.com, Amazon UK, Kobo, Smashwords, Inktera and a whole host of other good book shops. It's 93,000 words of magic by the creator of this site. Get it now before it's too late.

Thursday, 20 December 2018

December 20th, 1978 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

It's exciting news for all who love crisps and all who love football trivia because I have, in recent weeks, mentioned that the back covers of UK Marvel mags during this period are often decorated with full-page ads for Smiths Crisps which give snippets of info about the history of football. Thanks to this, I've had a request for more news on the subject and images of the ads and I can reveal they were part of a series called Smiths' Football-Crazy Crisps. Even more excitingly, several of the ads can be found by clicking on this here link to The Football Cartophilic Info Exchange and then scrolling down the page.

That matter attended to, it's time to see just what our favourite comics company was up to in this week of 1978 as we were all getting excited about the impending arrival of Santa.

I did originally mistype that as, "We were all getting excited about the impending arrival of Satan," but decided to correct it, as I'm aware that only I was excitedly awaiting that.

Star Wars Weekly #46, Darth Vader

Other than being able to brilliantly guess that Darth Vader might be in this issue, I can say nothing of the book's contents.

I would, howmsoever, assume the adventures of Adam Warlock are still underway, as they only commenced last issue.

Mighty World of Marvel #325, the Incredible Hulk

The Hulk is still having trouble with Moonstone who seems to be well and truly pulling the wool over Doc Samson's eyes.

Elsewhere, the Gladiator's in the process of stealing the Man-Thing related Sallis Papers, which suggests to me that we're going though the build-up to Daredevil's first encounter with Death-Stalker, a tale which was previously published in the 1977 Marvel Annual.

Admittedly, this did mean plenty of us had already read it, which was the one drawback of getting Marvel annuals for Christmas.

Meanwhile, the FF are being held prisoner in Agatha Harkness' hometown and, back at the Baxter Building, the Impossible Man is being ambushed by a perfidious partnership of the Molecule Man and Klaw.

Super Spider-Man #306, the Enforcers

It's every super-hero's worst nightmare, the return of the Enforcers. How can our super-strong, super-fast, super-reflexed, wall-crawling, web-shooting hero with a built-in ambush warning system and years of experience under his belt possibly hope to survive against a man with a rope, a man with a crate and a man with a hat?

Facing far greater concerns is the Falcon because, in the pages of Captain America, the Red Skull's reaping the seeds of Harlem's discontent by pretending to be a black activist on a mission to raze the place to the ground.

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Rick Jones. Yay or nay? YOU decide!

Rick Jones, Incredible Hulk #1, Rick plays a harmonica in his car as Bruce banner rushes towards him with the Gamma Bomb about to go off
Rick Jones is a man who needs no introduction. Mostly because he'll inflict himself upon you whether he's been introduced or not.

He's the man who can't be kept out of nuclear test sites, Avengers Mansions or Negative Zones. He couldn't even be kept out of the climax of the Kree/Skrull War, which - bearing in mind it took place in a totally different galaxy - was one hell of an achievement.

In all honesty, I never, for the most part, minded Rick. I mean, OK, he was no Jim Wilson but he did his best to keep the Hulk locked in that concrete bunker all night, he helped out Captain America, the Avengers and Captain Marvel and he was often a youth with the weight of the world on his shoulders.

Granted, he was also the man responsible for the creation of the Incredible Hulk, thus destroying Bruce Banner's life and putting the whole world in danger but which of us can honestly say we've never made a comparable foul-up at some point in our lives?

The two things that did cause me to have a problem with him were his bouts of self-pity that even the Silver Surfer would envy and his insistence on having a musical career.

It says something that I somehow managed to hate Rick Jones' music even though I'd never heard it. Somehow, just seeing the lyrics to his songs written down told me I wasn't going to like their tunes.

Still, he did save us all from the Machiavellian manipulations of Ronan the Accuser and bring Captain Marvel back to our world. And where would we all be if not for him having founded the Teen Brigade?

Basically, Rick Jones, yes or no? You're free to say which, in the comments section below, and to make any other statements about The Man Who Would Be Bucky that pop into your head, and I shall no doubt announce the results of this red-hot debate in next Thursday's Marvel UK post.

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Your favourite Christmas song of all time.



There must come a moment in the life of any nostalgia-based website when it feels compelled to scrape the bottom of the barrel and ask the question that cannot be avoided.

And, my friends, that moment has arrived. After eight years of evading it, I'm finally tackling the always thorny issue of just what is the best Christmas song of all time.

Obviously, it's Merry Xmas Everybody by Slade and I'm sure my total certainty about this has nothing to do with it having been the first song I ever heard on my first ever radio, way back in the winter of 1973.

With its Beano Annual sensibility and its strange shifts in tone from the jovial to the darkly glimmering, it perfectly caught the mood of a British Christmas. Like the band's earlier hit Coz I Luv You, it managed to sound like it had been around since before any of us were born but also to simultaneously hint at the impending arrival of an unsettling new era.

But what a remarkable winter that was. Not only did it give us Slade's masterpiece, it also gave us Wizzard's I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday, and two songs that each demanded to be Christmas Number One by right found themselves battling it out for the privilege.

Of course, a year before that had seen the release of John and Yoko's Happy Xmas (War is Over) although the decade prior to that had been a strangely quiet one for Christmas classics.

In fact, I'm struggling to think of any great Christmas songs from the 1960s or, indeed, any Christmas songs at all from that decade - unless one has the courage to recall Dora Bryan's All I Want For Christmas is a Beatle.

I can only assume people didn't celebrate Christmas in the 1960s.

The 1950s is a total black hole for me when it comes to Christmas songs.

The 1940s, of course, gave us White Christmas, the Everest of Christmas hits.

That decade also gave us Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and The Christmas Song, otherwise known as Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.

The 1930s gave us Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Who would have guessed that Bruce Springsteen was making records way back in the 1930s?

But, while 1973 may have hit Peak Christmas, the 1970s had at least two more tricks up their sleeves. 1975 gave us Greg Lake's I Believe in Father Christmas, written specially for anyone who likes to be a Mr Grumpy Boots each Yuletide, while 1977 gave us the ever bizarre alliance of Bing Crosby and David Bowie bringing Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy into our lives.

Having said that, the track wasn't released until early the next decade, when such awesomeness couldn't be kept from the world any longer.

The 1980s gave us Merry Christmas Everyone by Shakin' Stevens, Stop the Cavalry by Jona Lewie, Macca's Wonderful Christmas Time, the Waitresses' Christmas Wrapping, Siouxsie and the Banshees' Israel, Kate Bush's December Will Be Magic Again, Do They Know It's Christmas? Wham's Last Christmas and Fairy Tale of New York by the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl.

The 1990s gave us Mariah Carey's All I Want For Christmas is You, possibly the only Christmas track from that decade that's managed to match the popularity of its predecessors from earlier eras.

The 1990s also gave us East 17's anomalous Stay Another Day, one of those Christmas songs that has nothing at all to do with Christmas, other than that the band were wrapped up warm in the video.

That raises the perennial question; "Is Frankie Goes to Hollywood's The Power of Love a Christmas song?" All common sense says no. And yet it's somehow become inextricably linked with the festive period in a way that many singles which have made far more effort to be Christmassy haven't.

And what of the 21st Century? What Christmas treats has that given us when it comes to music?

Well, it's given us...

...erm...

...er...

To be honest, the only post 2000 AD Christmas song I can think of is the Darkness' heavily ironic Christmas Time, which is great fun but sounds suspiciously like a hyperactive teenager's parody of those 1973 Christmas hits that launched this post in the first place.

Can it be true? Can the era of the great Christmas song be dead?

I have no idea.

Perhaps you do have an idea.

More to the point, perhaps you have your own thoughts about what's the best Christmas song of all time. And perhaps you'd like to share them with the world, in the comments section below. If you would, you can. That is, after all, what the spirit of Christmas is all about.

Sharing.

Sharing.

And more sharing.

Thursday, 13 December 2018

December 13th, 1978 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

What a massively different place the world of exactly four decades ago was. Why, in this week of forty years ago, an embattled British government, kept in power solely by an alliance with a minor party, found itself forced to face a vote of No Confidence, as its grasp on power threatened to collapse into chaos. You couldn't imagine that sort of thing happening nowadays.

Fortunately, back then, there was escape available at the local picture house, which was showing Superman.

Released in this week of 1978, the tale of wholesome heroism quickly became the second-biggest grossing film of the year, behind Grease, which is a remarkable achievement, bearing in mind it earned all that money in just three weeks. It went on to become the 6th biggest grossing movie of all time.

Star Wars #45

I know little of the contents of this issue but I do know it sees the arrival of Adam Warlock's strip. I'm assuming we start with the launch of Jim Starlin's Thanos/Magus epic.

We also get a half-page advert alerting us that Marvel's Micronauts strip is soon to be joining the book.

I was always unsure what to think of that strip. On the one hand, it was based on a bunch of toys, which all sense told me meant it couldn't be any good. On the other, thanks to its Bill Mantlo scripts and its art by Michael Golden, it was clearly far better than such a thing should be.

Clearly far worse than it should have been was the football match between Tongham Youth Club and Surrey & Hawley in November 1969. By the end of it, all twenty two players had been booked and another hospitalised.

How do I know this? And what does it have to do with Star Wars?

Yes, you guessed it. This issue's back cover features another of those full-page Smiths' Crisps football ads that taught me far more about the game than Match of the Day ever did.

Mighty World of Marvel #324, Hulk vs Moonstone

Other than knowing the Hulk's up against Moonstone, I genuinely have no information at all about what occurs in this one.

I shall therefore assume the FF are still out to rescue Agatha Harkness from the clutches of her home town and that Daredevil's still up against the Mandrill and Nekra.

I've just discovered that Nekra's real name is Nekra Sinclair.

Wait. What? Hold on a minute. Her parents called her, "Nekra?" What kind of a name is that to give your kid?

I can say nothing of the whereabouts of Iron Man this issue.

Super Spider-Man #305, the Enforcers

Hooray, the Enforcers are back!

I do believe they're working for Lightmaster. Quite what Lightmaster's plan is, I, tragically, cannot recall but I've a feeling it has something to do with a plot to kidnap the White Tiger in a case of mistaken identity.

All I know of this issue's other contents are that, in the Avengers' tale, Thor's up against Orka and starting to come to the realisation that Moondragon's claims that he's slumming it by mixing with the rest of the team might be true.

Meanwhile, the other Avengers have been captured and Hellcat's about to get into a fight with a man called Baxter, who I think might be her ex-husband, but don't quote me on that, as it's a long time since I last read it.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

The Marvel Lucky Bag - December 1978.

Hark? Do you hear it? As you negotiate the breakers of Nostalgia? The dread siren call that can only be the Marvel Lucky Bag, demanding you hoist your main sails and investigate once more what was happening in some of Marvel's less high-profile books of forty years ago?

Avengers Annual #8

I really don't have a clue what's going on in this one, other than that it seems to have a zillion and one guest stars.

It also seems to feature a female version of Dr Spectrum.

This tips me off that the tale is likely to feature the Squadron Sinister, to some degree or other.

Given the propensity for the Squadron Supreme to also show up in The Avengers, it does raise the question of whether the Squadron Supreme have ever fought the Squadron Sinister and, if they have, just how did everyone in the fight avoid becoming totally confused as to whose side who was on?

Defenders #66, the Valkyrie goes to Asgard

It's taken a long time but the Valkyrie finally visits Asgard.

Apparently, she's there to fight Ollerus the Unmerciful.

I don't have a clue who he is but I've no doubt he's nothing but trouble.

It would seem Hela and Harokin are also in this tale, so I assume a trip to the Afterlife is involved. Bearing in mind the Valkyrie is nominally a Valkyrie - even though she never really acts like one - this would make sense.

Godzilla #17

It's the story you thought you'd never see; Godzilla terrorised by Dum-Dum Dugan.

It's all thanks to SHIELD using Hank Pym's shrinking gas on him.

I does make you wonder why they've never used it on the Hulk. Wouldn't that make him a bit easier to contain?

Then again, doesn't Hank Pym retain his full strength when he shrinks down to ant size? Doesn't that mean a doll-sized Godzilla should also retain his own full strength as well?

Then again, if shrinking doesn't reduce Hank Pym's strength, how come growing to giant size increases his strength? In the name of consistency, shouldn't that also have no effect on his power levels?

Marvel Super Special, Jaws 2

It's the comic we've all been waiting for, as Marvel tackles Jaws 2, a film I still haven't seen, after all these years.

But does this mean we're also going to get an adaptation of Jaws 3-D? And, given that it's a tale meant to be seen in 3-D, does that mean it'll be a pop-up book?

Marvel Premiere #45, Man-Wolf

It's the development that only a complete and total  madman could have foreseen, as Man-Wolf's strip suddenly becomes a sword and sorcery series - in space.

Beyond that, I know nothing of the contents of this comic.

Can Man-Wolf speak and think in this series or is he still a bit stupid?

Marvel Preview #17, Blackmark

Speaking of spaceborne swordplay, Marvel Preview gives us a big fat slab of Gil Kane's Blackmark, a strip I remember fondly from the early days of Savage Sword of Conan.

What If #12, Rick Jones becomes the Hulk

It's the question we've all asked ourselves at some point in our lives; "What if Rick Jones had become the Hulk?"

Well, admittedly, I've never asked myself it. The question I've kept asking is, "Why doesn't Rick Jones go away?"

The concept of him becoming the Hulk was never something that occurred to me in my youth but I do believe it's now become a redundant query as, unless I'm totally misremembering, in Marvel's, "Real," world, Rick has indeed spent time as the Hulk, as has seemingly every regular character in the book.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Forty years ago today - December 1978.

Mere minutes after I finish writing this post, the Doctor Who Season 11 climax will air. What thrills and spills will Chris Chibnall fling at us? Will old foes return? Will new foes emerge?

But, you know what? There's something even better than a climax.

And that's an anti-climax.

It's true. If anti-gravity is better than gravity, and anti-matter is fancier than matter, then anti-climax must be better than climax.

In that case, we're all in luck because if there's one thing my struggle to make sense of the Marvel comics of forty years ago is bound to be, it's an anti-climax.

Avengers #178, the Beast

Apparently, this issue features the Beast vs the Manipulator.

I must confess to not having a clue who the Manipulator is.

I am, however, assuming he or she isn't an evil chiropractor.

I shall ask Google, in order to find out.

...

I have now asked Google, and the Manipulator would seem to be a two-faced robot created by Machinesmith.

When I say, "Two-faced," I mean that he literally has two faces, not that he's a notorious hypocrite.

He may also be a hypocrite but I can offer no confirmation of that.

Either way, it would appear he went on to meet his fate when someone shot him in the head.

In fairness to him, most of us would meet our fate if someone shot us in the head.

Conan the Barbarian #93

In this issue, BĂȘlit is offered the crown of Asgalun but doesn't want it.

I can only conclude that she's a very hard to please woman.

Fantastic Four #201

I must confess I've never been a fan of split covers, and this issue does nothing to convince me I'm wrong.

I've also never been a fan of Quasimodo - and it turns out he's the villain of the piece.



Iron Man #117

This month's book is a landmark issue because it introduces a whole bunch of new characters I've never heard of. It introduces Senator Mountebank, Adam, Buck Richlen, Val Adair and Bethany Cabe.

I have no doubt that my ignorance of these people reflects more discredit upon me than it does upon them.

Fortunately, I can redeem myself by pointing out that Spymaster's in it too - and I have heard of him, so I'm not a total lost cause.

Amazing Spider-Man #187, Captain America and Electro

Unlike with the Iron Man tale, I've no doubt whatsoever that I've read this story.

But, strangely enough, I've no more memory of it than I have of that one. I'm starting to feel that any Spidey story reprinted by Marvel UK after the Dez Skinn Revolution has totally failed to lodge in my mind.



Spectacular Spider-Man #25, the Masked Marauder

It's the return we all wanted to see, as the Masked Marauder captures Spidey when the wall-crawler tries to prevent the Maggia committing a robbery.

More importantly, this issue sees the debut of Carrion, otherwise known as the clone of the late Professor Warren.

Poor Professor Warren. I do feel he deserved more respect than the writers ever gave him. It does make me sad that the man who took Peter and Gwen on a trip to see that device that made Doc Ock's arms malfunction ended up being turned into a foaming-at-the mouth, weirdo pervert bad guy.

Thor #278

The new Thor's making friends and influencing people, as he seeks to take the old Thor's place.

Not that he does it for long, as he's popped his clogs by the end of the tale.

Uncanny X-Men #116

Can the X-Men prevent Garokk and Zaladane destroying the Savage Land?

Of course they can.

I always had a soft spot for Garokk. If I was going to be a super-villain, he's the sort of super-villain I'd be.
Incredible Hulk #230

Judging by the cover, I'd assumed this one involves the return of the Locust but my vast online research would suggest it doesn't. It seems to revolve around some kind of alien bug.

I does, however, feature a character called Lumpy.

I have no idea who Lumpy is.

More intriguingly, the tale was written by Elliot S! Maggin, a man I associate so strongly with DC and with Superman that I had no idea he'd ever written for Marvel.

Captain America #228, the Constrictor

After failing miserably to defeat the Hulk in the only tale I've ever read that features him, the Constrictor decides to try his luck against Captain America, who I would say is more his level.

Having said that, I've no doubt the star-spangled superstar will quickly see him off.

Thursday, 6 December 2018

December 6th, 1978 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.



If 1978 belonged to anyone, it had to be Boney M.

Not content with Rivers of Babylon/Brown Girl in the Ring and Rasputin having been monstrous great big hits that year, they had the Christmas Number One spot all wrapped up by the first week of December when they captured it with Mary's Boy Child, giving them their second platinum-selling single of the year and meaning we'll have to endure them in shopping centres every Yuletide until we die.

They weren't cool, they weren't credible, they didn't necessarily sing on their own records but how could you not love them?

And there was something else you couldn't fail to love.

That was the contents of the products of our favourite comics company.

Admittedly, I say that but they might have been rubbish.

Here's where we find out.

Star Wars Weekly #44

For once, I know heaps about what happened in an issue of Star Wars Weekly.

Granted, I don't know that much about the main tale but I do know the reappearance of Obi-Wan Kenobi is down to someone telling Luke Skywalker an anecdote about an adventure the beardy sword-swinger had back when he was still alive.

Meanwhile, The UFO Connection's still running. For reasons I can't recall, our hero and his daughter are trying to get to the Great Pyramid in Giza - but the aliens are determined to stop them.

Our hero solves this problem by running them over with his jeep.

They might be super-intelligent aliens but they're clearly not smart enough to not to stand in the way of a speeding car.

There's also a story about someone called Karl Linders, which seems to be in the Flash Gordon envelope. I've no idea what it's about, as I possess no recall of it but the art looks to be the handiwork of that distinctly un-Marvel-like penciller Gray Morrow.

We also get An Illustrated History of Science Fiction Movies; Part One of which features, "The Damsels." Despite having no memory of that feature, I shall predict that it includes mentions of Maria from Metropolis and also Princess Leia.

Mighty World of Marvel #323, Hulk vs Moonstone

Mere weeks after I wrote of Moonstone being in the Hulk's US mag, we get the tale reprinted in Mighty World of Marvel.

Elsewhere, Iron Man's up against the Night Phantom who I believe is a robot, while the Fantastic Four are discovering the Eliminator and friends have abducted Agatha Harkness and her youthful charge.

Daredevil, meanwhile, is out to prevent the Silver Samurai abducting Shanna the She-Devil but, instead, gets clobbered by Nekra.



Super Spider-Man #304, the Iceman

Spidey's still up against the Iceman (who's still under the control of some villain or other) and is trying to shock him back to normal with the aid of a car wash.

For some reason, the Avengers are up against a huge horde of people, and the Squadron Supreme have turned against their own government.

Captain America and the Falcon are trying to prevent the Grey Gargoyle doing whatever it is he's trying to do with Element X, while Galactus releases Firelord from his service and, at Thor's suggestion, adopts the Destroyer as his new herald.



Savage Sword of Conan #14, Marvel UK

My knowledge of the contents of this month's issue extends no further than what is mentioned on the cover but I do know that's a Neal Adams illustration they're tempting us with.

Rampage Magazine #6, Hulk vs Sub-Mariner

The Hulk is in Atlantis and up against the Sub-Mariner in what I assume to be his first ever encounter with the merman monarch.

Nova teams up with Nick Fury to battle the Yellow Claw, while the Defenders are up against Nebulon and his army of bozos.



Starburst Magazine #5, Superman

What's this? Superman? On the cover of a Marvel mag? Has the world succumbed to madness?

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

The Marvel Lucky Bag - December 1968.

December 1968 was a great month for any man who likes to wear a poncho, because a chunk of it saw the Number One slot on the UK singles chart being occupied by Hugo Montenegro's version of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Why it was his version that was the big hit and not Ennio Morricone's, I couldn't say.

But it wasn't the only UK chart topper that month. It was knocked off the top spot by the Scaffold's Lily the Pink which went on to become that year's Christmas Number One.

One of the members of the Scaffold was, of course, Mike McCartney, brother of Paul. With the Beatles having already had four Christmas Number Ones by this point, it meant that, for five years out of six, the Christmas Number One slot had been claimed by a member of the McCartney clan.

It was even more good news for the McCartney family a couple of weeks later because, on the 1st of January, Lily the Pink was then deposed from its throne by Marmalade's cover of Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da.

Speaking of which, the Beatles' newly released White Album entered the UK album chart at Number One on the first day of December and was still there when Santa was coming down everyone's chimneys.

That was all very lovely for them but what about a bunch of less fortunate people? The less celebrated heroes of the Marvel Comics universe? What were they up to in the books that bore that month's cover date?

Captain Marvel #8

I've no idea what happens in this one. Apparently, some aliens called the Aakons are involved and a robot called Cyberex and some people called The Organization. It all sounds like an overstuffed pudding to me.

Is it just me or did Captain Marvel fight a robot in virtually every issue of his early days?

Doctor Strange #175, the Sons of Satannish

It would seem Clea's been abducted by Asmodeus, leader of the Sons of Satannish. From what I can remember, she did seem to get abducted quite a lot. Clearly, she studied at The Sue Storm School For Super-Heroines.

I'm sure I must have read this tale but I have no recall of it, which tends to be the case for me with Doctor Strange stories.

Agent of SHIELD #7. nick fury, jim steranko cover

Everything's gone Salvador Dali, as Jim Steranko gives us yet another much-celebrated cover.

It would appear Nicholas has been injected with a hallucinogenic drug that'll cause his death within six hours.

That would explain the cover.

But why did the bad guys not inject him with a drug that'd cause his death within six seconds? Wouldn't that have been a better plan?

Silver Surfer #3, Mephisto

Hooray! It's my favourite Silver Surfer tale, as the wind-borne windbag meets Mephisto who gives him something to whine about by abducting Shalla-Bal and then trying to get our hero to submit to his will.

Mephisto does realise that, if he succeeds, he's going to have to put up with the Surfer's complaining for all of eternity?

Sub-Mariner #8, the Thing

And it's one of my Sub-Mariner faves, as Namor takes on the Thing in a battle for the Serpent Crown.

I do believe this tale also sees the return of Betty Dean who, since Subby last saw her, has suffered the tragedy of growing old while Namor has remained young.

Even though, she must only be in her forties.

With all this and John Buscema's magnificent artwork, what is there not to love?

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