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?


Anonymous said...

The worst hits are the Christmas ones Steve.

Can't say much for the Marvel UK monthly cover format; I get that the boxes meant they were easier to lay out, you could see the whole image not obscured by text, Stan Lee followed suit on the US b&w mags blah blah etc etc...
But the fact remains that issue of Rampage would look a lot better if the Hulk and Namor figures filled out the cover more (which is what the painting was designed to do, otherwise there wouldn't be dead space at the top).

And whats that awful blue on SSOC all about? If Marvel were going to insist on the boxes, they could at least come up with a basic cover colour that complemented the artwork.


Anonymous said...

PS Wonder why Rampage was 5p cheaper than SSOC.
Maybe it had a larger circulation, thanks to the cover regularly featuring the no.1 tv star?

Anonymous said...

We appear to have entered the Dez Skinn era. His Starburst magazine became a Marvel monthly, and he introduced a house style, designed to differentiate the, teen-age targeted, monthlies from the, primary school aged, weeklies. The theory of this seems sound, even if the actual execution lacked finesse.

It is only in the Wiki era that I realised Bony M were German, and possibly not the actual vocalists. They did seem to be on top of the pops almost every other week, that year.


Killdumpster said...

I had Boney M's "Daddy Cool" on '45. As far as I know that was their only semi-major US hit. I had no idea they were such a phenomenon in Europe.

Killdumpster said...

Thor was probably thinking he'd get the Destroyer out of his hair, for at least awhile.

dangermash said...

Oh yes, those are definitely Dez Skinn style covers. We're doomed, I tell you, doomed!

And surely Hulk's first encounter with Namor would have been Avengers #3? Or were you being sarcy?

Timothy Field said...

Not a fan of the 'framed' covers either, a huge shame when the monthlies were using some gorgeous artwork. Dangermash, the Rampaging Hulk stories were meant to take place very early in Hulk's history. Though I seem to remember them being retconned later as alien cheese-dreams or something.

Steve W. said...

Yep, the Rampaging Hulk stories were supposed to take place during the period directly after the cancellation of the Hulk's original book. As a result, the Subby encounter in this issue happened before the Avengers formed.

KD, Boney M were indeed huge in Britain for a spell.

Dangermash and DW, mere weeks to go before the Dez Skinn Revolution turns our world on its head.

Anonymous said...

Pedants Corner
Tim is correct about those b&w Hulk stories - in an early 80s issue of the colour monthly Bill Mantlo rewrote them as "techno-fictions" or whatever, created by the character Bereet (which I gather became a bone of contention at Marvel when Steve Gerber tried to use the same conceit to rewrite Mantlo's stories for a revived Howard the Duck not long after).

Which makes dangermash also correct about Avengers #3.


Anonymous said...

Steve, this Boney M classic was called "Mary's Boy Child/Oh My Lord" - you can't leave out the "Oh My Lord" part of the medley!!!

I think this month's issue of Savage Sword Of Conan was when I first discovered Solomon Kane - an under-rated Robert E. Howard character!

Yes, we've definitely entered Dez Skinn's "Marvel Revolution" era - I too wasn't a fan of the new-look covers of the monthlies with their covers squashed into a box. The Rampage cover proclaims the Defenders final battle - I assume that means their final appearance before being replaced by the All-New, All-Different X-Men.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

UK Dudes -

I really dig your remarks and if any of you want to elaborate on Dez Skinn as we go through "his era" I would be appreciative. Probably to your fellow UK readers it might seem obvious, banal, or something but for guys like me, KD, MP (?), et al. it would be enlightening I think!

I take it Dez started framing the covers like for Conan, Hulk, Starburst? We'll see that in the comics too?

Timothy Field said...

The weeklies took an even darker route unfortunately...

Steve W. said...

Charlie, Dez only introduced the framed covers for the monthly mags. As Tim says, the weekly comics had a far more nightmarish fate inflicted upon them. You'll hear about it soon enough.

Colin, I can only apologise for any trauma I may have caused to all Boney M fans out there.

Anonymous said...

Was everyone else here buying the weeklies at this point?
I was just getting SSOC regularly(ish) and occasionally Rampage (I did sometimes get Star Wars when Starlin's Warlock was in it - if that hasn't happened yet it must be pretty soon - but of course the format stayed the same. Probably because it was the only real Marvel UK weekly earner)

So I've no problem complaining about the monthly covers, but seeing as I wouldn't have been buying the weeklies anyway why should it matter if I didn't like the way Skinn changed them?
As it happens, I did get a few to check out stuff like Night Raven and John Bolton's Hulk, so that actually was a point in their favour (sorry everyone).


Killdumpster said...


I have a distaste for most Christmas music, except for the classics, but William Shatner just released a Christmas album!!!

Anything I've heard recorded by that man is a screaming HOWL!!!

Charlie Horse 47 said...

I can't wait to hear about the "nightmare of the weeklies" LOL. If I hear about it at Xmas time, I will then finally have a "scary ghost story of Christmases long, long ago!" (It's the most wonderful time of the year...")

Anonymous said...

The only Christmas music I care for are the Heat Miser and Cold Miser songs from Year Without a Santa Claus. And Burgermeister Meisterburger from that other one.
Okay, I am partial to Nat King Cole's version of O Holy Night. Gets me every time.


Dougie said...

When I sold up in Glasgow, I found I had a tatty copy of that Neal Adams cover- given away as a poster in the first issue of Savage Sword Weekly. I framed it and hung it in my spare room here in Elgin ( which is the biggest room, too).

Anonymous said...

Sean, I was buying all three weeklies. I mean my father was buying them for me - he paid for the weeklies but I had to buy anything else, monthlies, Treasury Editions, UK annuals etc.

Charlie, you won't hear about the "nightmare of the weeklies" till mid-January.

There's loads of great Christmas music - it would take too long to mention all the great Christmas songs, carols and classical music.

Steve W. said...

Dougie, until recently, I thought I still had the posters from Titans #1 and POTA #1 but it turns out I don't. I do, however, still have a really boring poster showing global shipping routes. Needless to say, this discovery was a major disappointment for me.

Colin and Sean, at this stage, I was getting all the weeklies. I occasionally got Rampage. I'd only ever read one issue of SSOC and had yet to own an issue of Starburst.

Anonymous said...

I just had Starburst and Rampage from these issues. I think Roy of the Rovers (of all things) was my only regular weekly at this time. We did have a pretty active swap system at school, however.

Steve, I recently unearthed the first eight issues of Hulk weekly, which should prove useful over the coming weeks.


Steve W. said...

I look forward to it, DW, my memories of the post-relaunch issues are very very sketchy.