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.


Killdumpster said...

Yeah, Steve, Baxter was Patsy's Ex. He was always after the Beast during his first furry solo adventures.

I wouldn't buy or read anything based on toys, but I've heard Micronauts & Rom were supposively good. I don't know about Shogun Warriors, but I believe Herb Trimpe did the art on that series.

Killdumpster said...

As far as naming a child "Nekra", believe me I've seen worse.

I used to work at a records storage warehouse. Boxes upon boxes on 40 ft shelving, 5 floors. Hospital, legal, bank, government, etc, over 500 million files. Horrible job.

We'd have to pull individual files for doctor's offices & hospitals. A McDonald family actually named their baby "Ronald"! The poor kid!! RONALD McDONALD!!! The schoolyard ridicule would be crippiling!!!!

Then there's the parents who name their sons Samson or Hercules! Either those kids grew up tough, or in a constant state of bruised & bloody.

Some people shouldn't be able to name their own kids, or even have them.

Steve W. said...

Thanks for the Baxter confirmation, KD. I've never read ROM but Micronauts was certainly a quality comic.

Killdumpster said...

I remember that MARVEL actually had Micronauts and Rom integrated in the Marvel universe, for at least a bit, kinda like Godzilla. I remember seeing an ad for something like "Man-Thing vs Micronauts".

Also a Micronauts issue had a short Thano's vs Drax the Destroyer story that makes it worth a couple bucks.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Steve - Any chance you can show the "Smith Crisps" adverts you refer to? I became a fan of soccer at the age of 45 and anything that would further enrich my understanding of the game would be much appreciated!

Is Hans Solo breathing in outer space?

Please don't sell the Enforcers short. We've been down this road before... they were quality competition for Spidey but they just had to keep making Spidey stronger and stronger...

Anyone planning to see Aquaman?

Killdumpster said...

Ditko doing the Enforcers was the bomb.

Anytime anyone else wrote/drew them, they seemed like a Circus Of Crime missing a clown and a couple acrobats.

Not meaning to "stir the pot", guys.

Let's face it, if Montana was a solo villain, he'd be lower than Leap Frog. Bull & Fancy Dan carried a lot of the weight. I understand the "team-work" thing, but I think if they ever fought Captain America or silver-age Black Widow, they'd be vaporized.

Killdumpster said...

Maybe Hangman (Werewolf By Night villian), was related to Montana?

Yeah, too bad neither character was popular, cuz we'd get an origin story when they.....


Drum rim-shot, applause-sign blinking to audience!

Anonymous said...

Nekra is certainly an unusual name to give a child Steve, but thats really the least of the questions to ask about her and the Mandrill.
Whatever was Steve Gerber thinking when he came up with those two?
(Thats a rhetorical question - I don't actually want to know)


Anonymous said...

Nekra and Mandrill were certainly some strange villains. I think there was definitely some subtext there, which you might see more in comics now but maybe not then.
I like Gerber's stuff, and it seemed pretty oddball at the time but might be now seen as passe'.
Maybe every comic book writer is a frustrated novelist.


Steve W. said...

Charlie, I shall see what I can do as regards publishing the Smiths Crisps adverts.

KD, not only that but the Micronauts had a cross-over with the X-Men at one point.

Sean, sadly, that link's not working at the moment. I can only conclude that Nekra and the Mandrill have sabotaged it to prevent the terrible truth about themselves coming out.

dangermash said...

The Enforcers were the absolute business in ASM #10, #14 and #19 but never the same again.

Anonymous said...

In December 1978 Jim Callaghan had a mere five months left in office.
Forty years on, Theresa May also has about five months left in office.

I recall reading somewhere that in France new parents choose their baby's name from a government-approved list - any name not on the list is illegal so French babies don't get lumbered with idiotic names dreamed up by stupid, selfish parents. I don't know if that's true or not but it sounds like a good idea.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Dangermash, KD, et al! The Enforcers were the bomb back in the day and Ditko was probably the only artistic style I think would have worked?

I am not sure who would be stronger though in a street fight? The Ringmaster's Circus or the Enforcers? I mean, assuming the Enforcers didn't open their door to their secret hideaway and bring in a big wedding cake like the Trojan Horse and get Pearl Harbored by the Circus I think it'd be nip and tuck!

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Assuming Rick Jones is counting, could Snapper Carr snap his fingers faster than Sammy Davis Jr can tap dance?

Killdumpster said...

I think the Enforcers could take the Circus.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

I'm with you KD. As long at there ain't no muties on either side, it's just a fist fight!

Steve - Crisps are just potato chips, yes?

Steve W. said...

Crisps are indeed potato chips.

Anonymous said...

No way no how, K.D.
The Circus got a guy why flies out of a cannon and a chick with a big-ass snake.
And don't forget the clown!
They'd make mincemeat out of the Enforcers, even without the guy with the hypnotic hat.


Killdumpster said...


Possible play-by-play scenario:
Montana would lasso Ringmaster's hat, rendering him useless.

Human Cannonball launches at Bull, who smacks him into the ground.

Fancy Dan is attacked by the Flying Garbonzos (or whatever their names were), takes him a minute, but puts them down unscathed. He then leaps over to Princess Python, who has her pet attacking Bull.

Dan chops her a pressure point in her neck, rendering her unconscious. Montana lassoes the snake, as Bull shrugs it off, hurling it a the Clown, knocking him off of his unicycle.

As the elephant rider charges in, Fancy Dan cart wheels to one side, attracting the animals attention. Montana tangles two of it's legs, as Bull slams into it, tripping it.

The elephant falls & lands on a lot of the Circus villains. The ones not squashed or unconscious run away.

The Enforcers aren't performers. They're about "Taking Care of Business!"

Couldn't resist the BTO pun.

Anonymous said...

Killdumpster, your premise relies on a lot of variables. Questionable at best. By the way, the Circus of Crime tried to take out the Sub-Mariner in Latveria in the pages of Super-Villain Team-Up with the elephant. Subby punched the elephant out, knocked him cold.
I don't see Fancy Dan or the Ox doing that. No, unless you're as strong as Namor or the Hulk, when an elephant is amok, it's feets don't fail me now time. Amscray. Time to get outta Dodge. Haul balls.
George Orwell wrote a first-hand account about that once, when he was in service in the colonies.


Killdumpster said...

Forbush Man could take down the Circus.

Anonymous said...

M.P., the Circus of Crime and Namor were in Burmese Days? I must have skimmed that bit.
Didn't Howard the Duck defeat the Circus once? That doesn't suggest they're too difficult to take down.


Killdumpster said...

They loose COMPLETELY to everyone. I can't remember if they were ever in a "story-arc". Anytime I read a book in that they were the featured villains, it was one & done.

I didn't say they would over-power the elephant, just using the momentum of it's charge to their advantage.

It's "comic-book science". Any writer can come up with whatever they want.

Was merely looking at it from the standpoint that the Enforcers are mercenaries, where the Circus, in their earliest appearances at least, were basically just thieves.

Anonymous said...

Sean, I realize that Orwell was not writing about Latveria.
I'm often confused, but those are two different elephants, and I know that.


dangermash said...

If Ditko had the penclls, the Enforcers would take down the Circus. Without Ditko, I reckon the Circus could beat the Enforcers but the Enforcers could beat the Masters Of Menace.

And with Spider-Man's villains gallery growng like the universe in the first second after the Big Bang, don’t you think it’s amazing that the Enforcers appeared three times in quick succession in issues 10, 14 and 19? They must have been genuine A-listers at this stage, right up there with Doc Ock (3, 11, 12, Annual), Vulture (2, 7, Annual) and Sandman (4, Annual, 18, 19), the only other villains to have been up against Spider-Man three or more times. The Goblin and Mysterio will make their third appearances pretty soon to join this elite club.

Dougie said...

Does anyone remember Live Wire, Psycho-Man's goon? He had an electrified lariat and was a member of the Circus of Crime, taking on Luke Cage and Black Goliath.

By the way, I am besotted with the Cage Netflix series - my favourite of the Defenders series so far. Still to watch Jessica Drew- sorry, Jones.

I plan to see Aquaman in the next five or six days.

The Micronauts was a blatant mash-up of Star Wars and New Gods. The art was usually far superior to the scripts although Mantlo often created memorable B-list characters.

I loved those early Starlin Warlocks. I rather wish he had never gone back to the characters in the 90s. As far as I know, though, the Thanos story was in the Logan's Run comic, not Micronauts.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

I was looking at the Marvel-pedia and it mentions the Circus attacked Hulk and it had something to do with Rick Jones???

"After a string of robberies, they tried to rob Rick Jones's town he summoned the Hulk (who at the time had a link with Rick) and stopped the circus.[5]"

Good grief... Someone needs to send Rick Jones into outer space and get him the heck out of my life! (KD - you're up!)

dangermash said...

Charle - Hulk #3 was the first appearance of the Circus of Crime in the silver age.

By October 1967, they'd come up against a Hulk, Thor, Avengers, Spider-Man and Daredevil. They did like to spread the joy around.

Steve W. said...

Dougie, I remember Live Wire, although I only ever encountered him in that FF issue.

Anonymous said...

Dougie, completely agree with you on Starlin's Warlock, having tried an issue of Infinity Watch in the 90s against my better judgment.
Personally, I found a lot of cosmic Jimbo's work after Warlock - and his abruptly abandoned run on Dr Strange - to be disappointing.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Hey Dudes, Help me out.

I finally saw the Avengers Infinity movie, in the safety of my own home. (I do hate it when folks bring AR 15s to movie theatres, lol)

I was inspired to get the Infinity Gauntlet TBP where Thanos;s uniform ends up being a scarecrow. But in that TBP he as already acquired the stones.

So what TBP precedes this one where he presumably goes about getting the stones?

Also was there a sequel? Did Thanos strap on the uniform again and get all "destroy the universe" again?

Sorry for my gross display of my lack of history of this segment of the Marvel Universes!

Timothy Field said...

I can say with some certainty that neither the Enforcerers or the Circus of Crime were in possession of any of the infinity gems. Other than that, I can be of no assistance.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the Infinity Gems could help sort out Brexit?

Charlie, since reading one generally I try to avoid Marvel comics with the word Infinity in the title - anything after the crossover in the Avengers and Two-in-One '77 annuals I'm not interested.
So my ignorance is probably even greater than yours, but here -

Those wiki fictional biographies save a lot of time - think how many terrible comics you'd have to read to find out all that!


Dangermash said...

Thait is a genius mashup comment on two parallel threads on the sane blog post.

How great would Avengers 4 be, though, if Thanos discovered that the fifth infinity gem wasn’t in the Vision's forehead at all, but in the Ringmaster's hat?

Dangermash said...

That post seems to be missing the "takes hat off to Timothy Field" line.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Steve -

Are you posting a Sunday blog?

DO you guys have Santa Claus or St. Nick or Father CHristmas or... in the UK?

Steve W. said...

I will indeed be doing a Sunday post. It won't be very good but there's one topic that all nostalgia-based sites have to tackle at some point and tonight's the night I'm going to do it.

We have both Santa Claus and Father Christmas in the UK. We conflate them into one magical being who must not be defied.