Thursday 31 January 2019

January 31st, 1979 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

Do you like to climb into your car without bothering to open the doors first?

If so, this week of forty years ago was a great one for you, as it was the week that saw the launch, on CBS, of The Dukes of Hazzard.

How I loved that show and...

Oh, OK, I admit it. I hated it. It made me want to tear my own head off to get away from it. It never even made any sense to me. It just seemed to be people driving around in dust, hollering needlessly.

Fortunately, there were other TV shows which appealed to me more.

For instance, on BBC Two, on this very night of that week, Gavin Millar was interviewing up-and-coming director John Carpenter, on location in Los Angeles, about such works as Assault on Precinct 13, Dark Star and Halloween.

When it came to tunes, Heart of Glass was at Number One on the UK singles chart, giving Blondie their first British Number One.

But there was also darker news on the music front because January 29th saw the Cleveland Elementary School Shooting in San Diego, in which Brenda Ann Spencer opened fire, killing two people and wounding nine others. It might seem to have nothing to do with music but it turned out it had plenty because this was the incident which inspired Bob Geldof to write I Don't Like Mondays.

Star Wars Weekly #52, Darth Vader

I genuinely have no idea what happens in this issue, other than that it features the title strip, the Micronauts, the Watcher and Warlock.

I know all this because it says so on the cover. With me possessing detective skills like that, it looks like Sherlock Holmes suddenly has a major rival.

Marvel Comic #331, Hulk vs Thing

This post might be dated January 31st but this book isn't, because Marvel Comic has moved its publication date to Thursday, meaning this is, technically, cover-dated February 1st.

Except it's not cover-dated at all.

It's also unnumbered.

Dez is clearly out to confuse me.

What I do know is that, jealous of the Hulk having his own TV show, the Thing turns up at the relevant studios, out to land himself a show of his own.

Unfortunately, straight after that, the Hulk arrives, aiming to bang executive heads together for making him look bad on TV.

A clash between the two strong-men can only be a matter of minutes away.

Meanwhile, some criminal types are looking to take advantage of the disruption...

Spider-Man Comic #312, 1979

Just so that Marvel Comic won't feel lonely, Spider-Man Comic's also moved its publication date to Thursday.

Not that Spidey cares. He's got enough to worry about, with The Sorcerer, in a tale credited to Lee and Andru. I don't think I've ever seen a Spider-Man story credited to that pairing before. It does make me wonder if it's an inventory issue.

Unless it's that legendary but obscure Spidey story Andru drew before he became the strip's regular artist, which has been dusted down and published right here.

Then again, that story might not exist and I could be imagining it.

What I do know is the art looks distinctly odd, as though it's been heavily reworked by either Marie Severin, Larry Lieber, Bill Everett or all three of them simultaneously.

When it comes to the villain, The Sorcerer seems to be some kind of Puppet Master type who's out to take possession of Spider-Man, via a voodoo doll.

But then, it's clearly an issue for possession because this week's Thor tale features a fake seance going wrong when one of its organisers is taken over by the ghost of a three million year old caveman, in a tale reprinted from Mighty Thor #231. The main point of interest about it, for me, is that the artwork is by the epic duo of John Buscema and Dick Giordano which isn't a combination I can recall ever seeing anywhere else.

Sunday 27 January 2019

Daredevil #1.

Daredevil #1
Baffling billy clubs! In almost nine years of running this site, I still haven't got round to reviewing issue #1 of Daredevil. Bearing in mind he was one of the few super-heroes I could ever see myself being, due to him not being very impressive, this is a dread oversight.

So, here goes.

The denizens of the criminal underworld are having a nice old card game when a costumed hero with no dress sense appears and demands to see their boss The Fixer.

They don't like the sound of it and have a fight with him, which they lose.

We then get this new hero's backstory. He's Matt Murdock, son of habitually down-the-pan boxer Battling Murdock.

Despite having been blinded by a freak radiation accident, after pushing a blind man out of the way of a lorry, Matt sets out to get revenge on The Fixer after the crook has his father killed in the wake of his greatest victory.

Consequently, Matt's created a costume for himself, adopted the name, "Daredevil," and intends to make good use of the heightened senses the radiation has bestowed upon him.

The flashback over and done with, The Fixer dutifully shows up and his men have another fight with Daredevil, which they also lose.

At this point, The Fixer decides discretion is the better part of cowardice and flees somewhat slowly.

Daredevil #1, the Fixer dies, heart attack
Not one to be deterred by someone fleeing slowly, Daredevil pursues him to a subway station where he proceeds to give him a heart attack before tricking a confession out of his man Slade, for the benefit of a couple of handily placed police officers.

And that's it, the end of Daredevil's first, somewhat low-key, adventure.

But, of course, as he stands in his office and contemplates a job well done, Matt Murdock vows that the world has not seen the last of the man without fear.

Daredevil #1, the end
Why it's not seen the last of the man without fear, I've no idea. He's got his revenge. Wouldn't this be a good time to retire? Now you can see why I'm not a super-hero. I wouldn't carry on fighting once I'd got my revenge.

The first thing I have to say is this tale looks a lot better than I remember.

That's mostly because the version I grew up on was the one in Son of Origins of Marvel Comics, which looked like it'd been reproduced with a 1970s school photocopier and then attacked by a budgerigar that had just spent three days rolling around in ink. Once free of such reproductive failings, the artwork still doesn't look sensational but it does at least look clearer and cleaner and does have a certain retro style to it.

And that retro style is the main thing that strikes me about the tale. It really doesn't look or read like a Silver Age Marvel comic. It feels much more like a Golden Age DC comic.

Daredevil #1, Fogwell's Gym
Perhaps that shouldn't be such a surprise, as its artist Bill Everett was a Golden Age veteran and Stan Lee always claimed DD's creation was partially inspired by the 1940s character of the same name. It does, however, make the tale an interesting curiosity.

Overall, it's a simple, functional story that does its job of introducing both its hero and his alter-ego, while also introducing us smoothly to Matt's sidekicks Foggy Nelson and Karen Page. It doesn't quite have the verve or eccentricity of some of the other Marvel origins but it does its job without fuss and Daredevil's powers are quite appealing.

Other points I feel I should make:

I do seem to be the only person alive who prefers Daredevil's original costume to his later one.

Daredevil #1, Battling Murdock's body is discoveredIt does seem a strange lapse that the location The Fixer operates from is called Fogwell's Gym and Matt's best friend and business partner is called Foggy, creating the impression that the two are in some way connected. Possibly, the ever-busy Stan was not putting enough thought into naming things in this tale.

Karen Page seems to be permanently randy. In her every appearance in this issue, she never shuts up about her desire for Matt Murdock. Needless to say, the trademark Stan Lee love triangle is already set up by the end of the tale.

It's a source of endless wonder that the bad guy's a dodgy boxing promoter called The Fixer. I'm no expert on the fight game but how on Earth does a man called The Fixer get a promoter's license? Does his name not constitute a slight warning to the authorities? For that matter, who are the sad muppets who actually decide to bet on his fights?

Daredevil #1, Matt Murdock blindThe internet's always informed me that, due to Bill Everett's various problems, the artwork was added to and amended by pretty much anyone who happened to walk into the Marvel office that week, including Steve Ditko. Perusing the pages, I really can't see any sign of anything that looks like the handiwork of Ditko, although the panel that shows Matt's nose, up-close, as his sense of smell is being explained does look like the work of Wally Wood. Whether it really is the work of Wally Wood, I could not say.

Matt Murdock adopts the name, "Daredevil," as his secret identity because that's what everyone who knew him when he was a kid called him. I'm not sure Matt quite gets the idea of a secret identity. Aren't you supposed to choose a name that everyone doesn't know you by?

Presumably the people who gave The Fixer his license are the same people who license trucks packed with loose barrels of radiation to drive around the centre of New York and don't even bother to check their brakes first.

Thursday 24 January 2019

January 24th, 1979 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

This is it! We've reached the 40th anniversary of the most important event in human history - and I don't mean Ian Dury getting to Number One with Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick.

No. Four decades ago, we were being hit with a whole other kind of stick; the sort of stick that could bash a man into a madness no straitjacket could contain. That stick was the, "Marvel Revolution," and the wielder of that stick was Dez Skinn.

But what could it mean?

And, like all revolutions, would it devour its young?

Star Wars Weekly #51

Even the one book that, on the face of it, is blissfully unaffected by the Revolution is still a different beast to what it was a mere fortnight ago. That fancy new corner box is still there, as is the concept of using a photo for the main cover image.

We also get four sci-fi strips. Obviously, one of them's Star Wars and another is, presumably, Adam Warlock. What the third is, I know not. On recent form, it's likely to be a one-off tale with a twist ending.

But the big news concerns the comic's other strip. And that's because, after plenty of trumpeting, the adventures of the Micronauts are finally unleashed upon us, and my oft-mentioned confusion as to their merits begins.

Marvel UK, Marvel Comic #330, the Hulk

If Star Wars has got off lightly, the company's flagship certainly hasn't. It's not merely flagging, it technically no longer exists, as The Mighty World of Marvel is gone, replaced by the brand new Marvel Comic.

Or is it brand new?

Interestingly, the top of the book's intro page declares it to be the very first issue. Then again, the small-print at the bottom of that page declares it to be issue #330, while the front cover ascribes no issue number to it at all.

So that's not confusing.

Regardless, gone are the glossy covers, replaced by the same matte paper stock as the interior pages.

Those interior pages feature tales which star the Hulk, Skull the Slayer, Dracula, Conan, Daredevil and Shang-Chi who's been rebranded as an agent of, "SI-6," in what I believe is an attempt to cash-in on the popularity of The Professionals TV show by making him seem more like a government agent than a martial arts expert.

In fairness, five of those strips are perfectly good strips (Skull being being the odd one out) but their identities are not the problem.

The problem is that it'd be nice to say the comic's managed to fit in six stories thanks to an increased page count or a Titans style formatting masterstroke but, sadly, it's achieved purely by giving each of its stars a feeble three to four pages in which to do their stuff. I remember this making it a choppy, frustrating read and, even more than the switch to matte covers, an instant passion killer.

As for what happens in those strips this week, sadly, this is another - admittedly unforeseeable - consequence of the relaunch. "Marvel Comic," is such a generic title that it doesn't half make it tough for those living in the 21st Century to unearth info about the book via the power of Google.

Consequently, the only tale I've been able to find anything out about is the Hulk's. In this week's mighty instalment, Bruce Banner catches a glimpse of his green alter-ego's TV show and becomes so enraged by it that he instantly turns into the Hulk who decides to go to Hollywood and teach them all a lesson.

I'm getting the feeling there may be a bit of satire here of comic fans angry that the TV version of Hulkie isn't a fair representation of their hero.

Marvel UK, Spider-Man Comic #311, Keith Pollard

As it is with Mighty World of Marvel, so it is with Super Spider-Man which now becomes Spider-Man Comic.

The good news is we have the chance to win pogo sticks.

The bad news is that, "Spider-Man Comic," is just as un-Google-friendly a title as, "Marvel Comic." Dez was clearly determined to make my job a hard one.

What I do know is that, when it comes to the main strip, The DA announces all charges against Spidey have been dropped.

Not that it does anything to dampen the ambitions of the Chameleon who uses his powers to try and discredit our hero, but Flash Thompson talks sense into everyone's heads and the day is saved. I cannot comment on whether any Rick Jones masks are involved.

I do believe, from memory, that the Avengers are still up against The Human Chicken's attempts to control Wonder Man. I don't have a clue what happens in the Thor, Nova or Fantastic Four strips and I have no memory at all of the Sub-Mariner ever even having been in the comic.

Anyway, there you have it. It's a revolution and I have survived it. Technically, that makes me a victor.

Well done to me.

Sunday 20 January 2019

2000 AD - December 1980.

At the start of December 1980, the Number One slot on the UK singles chart was held by ABBA's Super Trouper but it wasn't long before John Lennon's murder caused it to be toppled by (Just Like) Starting Over, giving him his first post-Beatles Number One in Britain.

But even the combined might of a Beatle and ABBA couldn't stop a far more powerful force from rising, late in the day, to claim the Christmas Number One slot for 1980.

And that force was There's No One Quite Like Grandma by St Winifred's School Choir, truly one of the most appallingly horrific records ever released. To this very day, some of us still live in fear of a St Winifred's revival.

Still, at least there was refuge from them on the album chart, where just one LP ruled the UK roost for the entire month, and that was Super Trouper by ABBA.

But, if St Winifred's were rampant, there were other things afoot at the time that could instill fear into the hardest of hearts - and one of them was that it was the month in which a UFO was spotted near RAF Woodbridge, launching what became known as the Rendlesham Forest Incident, ofttimes dubbed, "Britain's Roswell," and possibly the highest-profile UFO event this land has ever seen.

There was only one thing for it. With all these nightmares unfolding in the real world, we were going to have to seek refuge in the Galaxy's Greatest Comic, and I have no doubt at all that that's precisely what I did do.

Even so, I must confess that nothing that happens in this month's issues rings any bells in my memory.

But that doesn't matter, because it's Christmas and that means we have an annual to look forward to.

Admittedly, nothing in that book rings any bells for me either but that's mostly because I've never read it, and I do have to say it doesn't possess the most compelling cover I've ever seen on a 2000 AD annual.

That aside, its interior contains 128 pages, including a Strontium Dog tale titled Night of the Blood-Freaks, a feature on Special Effects in Sci-Fi Movies, 10 Ways to Destroy the World, The Mumps From Beyond the Moon, Ro-Jaws' Robo-Facts, The Man From 2000, Tharg's Guide to How 2000 AD is Produced and a zillion and one other features, games, puzzles, pin-ups and stories. It does seem to be a book dominated by Judge Dredd and the ABC Warriors and looks to be far better value for money than the somewhat half-hearted annuals Marvel were putting out at the time.

I do see Prog 191 is giving away Black Hole space suits which will no doubt come in handy the next time I encounter a black hole, whilst Progs 189 and 190 offer us the chance to own our own flying saucer, which, bearing in mind what was going on at Rendlesham at the time, seems a remarkable coincidence.

Clearly, with his Outer Space connections, Tharg knew more than he was letting on...

STOP PRESS! As Sean has pointed out in the comments section below, this year saw publication of the first Judge Dredd Annual. Accordingly, I've now added its cover to this post.

2000 AD Prog 189, Judge Dredd

2000  AD Prog 190, Johnny Alpha

2000  AD Prog 191, Judge Dredd

2000  AD Prog 192

2000  AD Annual 1981

Judge Dredd Annual 1981

Thursday 17 January 2019

January 17th, 1979 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

There can't have been many occasions in the history of Marvel UK when every comic published that week was a landmark issue but that was certainly the case in this week of January 1979.

But just what were those landmarks?

And were they good ones or bad ones?

Star Wars Weekly #50

Landmark No.1.

Not only does our favourite space saga reach its 50th issue but the old Kirbyesque corner box is replaced by a segment of the Brothers Hildebrandt movie poster.

We also get out our first ever photo cover - something that'll become a common practice for a brief spell.

When it comes to the insides, we get an article confirming there'll be a second Star Wars movie and that all our favourite stars'll be back for it.

The comic's Illustrated History of Science Fiction has reached the subsection, "Heroes." I've no info on who's covered by it but, bearing in mind his influence on Star Wars, I'll be amazed if Flash Gordon doesn't get a mention.

In the backup strips, the astronaut who's been mistaken for a demon, by a bunch of old-style witch hunters, gets his revenge when his mates show up.

Meanwhile, Adam Warlock's fighting a man called Autolycus, in his attempts to get to the heart of the Universal Church of Truth, and the comic announces the Micronauts' strip will be beginning next issue, mere weeks after it was first launched in the States.

Mighty World of Marvel #329, the Hulk

Landmark No. 2.

It's time for tears as this week brings us the last ever issue of the original Mighty World of Marvel.

Admittedly, it'll be revived at a later date, as a monthly title and, as far as I'm aware, it's still going now but the weekly incarnation, which had launched Marvel UK, all the way back in 1972, breathes its last with this issue.

Bearing in mind its significance, I wish I could reveal details of its historic contents but, other than the Hulk tale, I'm in the dark.

Having said that, I don't know much about the Hulk tale either. He seems to be up against some sort of robot parrot from outer space. I'm assuming this issue reprints the December 1978 dated Incredible Hulk #230 and involves farming and crops and other things a city slicker like me would never understand.

Super Spider-Man #310, the Scorpion

Landmark No. 3.

It's time for even more tears because this is the last issue of the comic that began life as Spider-Man Comics Weekly in 1973.

Granted, it'll be relaunched next week, as Spider-Man Comic but, somehow, despite the strips within continuing seamlessly from this issue, it never felt like it was the same book.

At least the old title goes out in style with a rather appealing Keith Pollard cover.

I do believe the Scorpion's still out to get J Jonah Jameson.

Meanwhile, the Avengers are tackling the Black Talon, the man I can't resist calling, "The Human Chicken," - or at least the Scarlet Witch is, as he's already taken the other Avengers out of the fight.

Elsewhere, the comic trumpets the imminent arrival of the New X-Men in the pages of Rampage Monthly.

Tuesday 15 January 2019

The Marvel Lucky Bag - January 1979.

What do we want?

The Past!

When do we want it?


And that can only mean it's time for me to once more investigate what Marvel's less glamorous titles of the 1970s were up to, as I take a look at some of the company's more offbeat offerings which bore the cover date of January 1979.

The Human Fly #17

Unbelievably, the Human Fly's comic is still going.

Not for long, however. As far as I can make out, his comic now has just two issues left to live. All of which proves that you can survive standing around on top of a jumbo jet but you can't survive reader apathy.

When it comes to this issue, it would appear that our hero's latest job, as a human cannonball, leads to nothing but trouble for him.

It would be nice to imagine that it transpires that the carnival he's signed up with is actually the Circus of Crime and that, now, having discovered its true intent, he has to thwart its latest attempt at criminality but, sadly, I've encountered no evidence at all to suggest that any such thing happens.

The Micronauts #1

Hooray! The Micronauts make their microscope challenging debuts, with the tale of what happens when Commander Rann wakes from suspended animation, only to discover that Baron Karza's taken over the whole Microverse.

As I've said before, I never knew what to make of The Micronauts when the strip turned up in Marvel UK's Star Wars Weekly. On the one hand, it was clearly much better than it should have been. On the other, it was about toys.

Did this mean I should like it?

Did this mean I shouldn't like it?

I could never decide.

And yes, I did always misread the villain's name as, "Baron Khazi." I can only blame Carry On films for being a bad influence on me.

But it's interesting to see that Karza is the figure depicted in the corner box, rather than any of the strip's heroes, which is the equivalent of putting Doc Doom in the FF's corner box, or Kang in the Avengers'.

Marvel Treasury Edition #19, Conan the Barbarian

I do believe this Treasury Edition reprints Buscema and Alcala's magnificent Iron Shadows in the Moon - but in colour.

How could anyone not want to own such a thing?

This book also reprints Alex Niño's highly memorable People of the Dark from Savage Sword of Conan #6.

Red Sonja #13

I'm including this purely because it's a blatant homage to Frank Frazetta's painting The Mammoth, a fact which gives me remarkable pleasure.

Not that it does Sonja any good. Like the Human Fly, she has just two issues to go before she meets her doom.

Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle #20, Marvel Comics

I really don't know what Tarzan's doing to Zabu there but it's probably best not to consider it too deeply.

Marvel Super Special, Battlestar Galactica

Hooray! Not content with giving us one Star Wars rip-off - with the Micronauts - this month, Marvel gives us a second, as we get an adaptation of the pilot of the TV show that wanted to be Star Wars so badly that it hurt.

My main memory of both this adaptation and the original pilot episode is that whenever those women with four eyes and two mouths appeared, it made my brain hurt as it instinctively battled to turn them into women with two eyes and one mouth.

Strangely, there were two versions of this book published at the same time. One was the version, depicted here which, if I remember rightly, had a magazine-type format, while the other was in the form of a Treasury Edition.

Sunday 13 January 2019

Forty years ago today - January 1979.

The Past. Where is it?

Right here!

And how do we get to it?

Like this!

Avengers #179, Bloodhawk

I don't have the slightest clue who Bloodhawk is but the internet tells me his father was a geneticist who wanted to expand mankind's evolutionary potential and, thus,  experimented on his own unborn child, turning it into Bloodhawk. Unwilling to raise the child, he then abandoned him on a living island.

I think it's a situation we can all relate to.

But I've no idea if the living island is the same one that turned up in the New X-Men's first adventure, or how the Avengers came to be involved in all of this.
Conan the barbarian #94

I was going to complain that those are the smallest lions I've ever seen.

Then I realised they're baboons.

I'm no David Attenborough.

Neither is Conan, judging by the way he's all revving up to slaughter the lot of them.

This story features a character called Lasanga, a name I can't avoid misreading as, "Lasagne."

Captain America #229

Judging by that cover, this one looks to be somewhat overstuffed with characters.

It seems the Blue Streak's revealed to be a spy for The Corporation.

I don't have a clue who the Blue Streak is.

For that matter, I don't have a clue who The Corporation are either.
Daredevil #156, DD vs DD

We now have a cover which seems to feature Daredevil vs Daredevil while Matt Murdock watches on.

It seems this may all be some kind of dream sequence being visited upon a comatose Matt.

Whatever's going on, it does bring to mind those early Iron Man tales when Tony Stark would have to don his old armour, in order to fight some wrongdoer who'd stolen his current armour.

Fantastic Four #202, Quasimodo

I don't have a clue what's going on in this one but I do know Quasimodo was always one of my least favourite villains, so I doubt I'd like this story.

It is, though, strangely charming to see Sue futilely bouncing invisible tennis balls off Quasimodo's head.

Incredible Hulk #231

It's another one where I don't have a clue what happens inside but that's a Herb Trimpe cover, a fact which presses my nostalgia buttons, and it's pleasing to see the Hulk looking so menacing. I, therefore, have no doubt I would have bought it, had I seen it on the comics racks at the time.

Iron Man #118

Now Tony Stark's got problems. A bunch of SHIELD agents want to kill him, in order to gain control of his company and make it start to produce munitions again.

Spectacular Spider-Man #26, Daredevil and the Masked Marauder

Someone at Marvel clearly needs a lot of convincing that the Masked Marauder's not a great villain because he's back again - and, inevitably, he succeeds in blinding our hero.

Thor #279, Pluto, Ulik and Jane Foster

That bounder Pluto's kidnapped Jane Foster and hung her in a pose guaranteed to get the attention of teenage boys.

I assume this is to lure Thor into his dark domain, rather than just being an act of random happenstance.

X-Men #117

Is this the first appearance of The Shadow King?

I have read this tale but not in a long time. Does it involve Professor X in Morocco, coming up against a fez-wearing crime lord who's also a deadly mutant with a massive ego?

Amazing Spider-Man #188, Jigsaw

This cover's noticeably reminiscent of the one from issue #28 in which the Molten Man made his first appearance. I assume this isn't coincidence, although I fail to see any parallels between Jigsaw and the Molten Man.

As Jigsaw's managed to miss Spidey, with four different shots, from a distance of ten feet, it doesn't exactly create the impression that he's a deadly menace.

Thursday 10 January 2019

January 10th, 1979 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

Spider-Man Comics, January 1979 house ad, Marvel UK, Dez Skinn, marvel revolution
We're well into January 1979. And that means we're just two weeks away from Dez Skinn's Marvel Revolution which'll make our favourite comics company almost unrecognisable.

Already, the ads are appearing for the new mags we'll be getting in our lives. We're enthusiastically told that Spider-Man Comic is coming and that it'll have a whopping six strips in it!

How is this magnificent feat to be achieved? Is it going to have extra pages? Is it going to see a return to the landscape format some of us will forever hold dear to our hearts?

Only time will tell.

But, for now, let's see what treasures Marvel UK has in store for us before these epic changes occur.

Star Wars Weekly #49

As always, as far as I'm concerned, the Star Wars story could be about anything, but I do know this issue also gives us a Tales of the Watcher masterpiece with the magnificent title The Cave of Shaggdorr!

I can't help feeling Sez Dez should have thought better of printing that one.

In another of this issue's back-up stories, an insect-like space creature is captured, in the age of the witch hunts, tried, convicted and sentenced to be burnt at the stake.

From what I can recall, I'm fairly certain the twist is that the, "alien," is actually a human astronaut in a spacesuit which merely resembles an insect and that the planet he's landed on is not Earth at all but one that closely replicates it.

I'm also fairly sure Marvel UK had already published it previously, either in an earlier issue of Star Wars Weekly or in Planet of the Apes.

Mighty World of Marvel #328, the Hulk

Fear for your tractors because the Hulk finds himself up against an insect-like alien.

I'm hoping it's not the poor bloke from that story in Star Wars Weekly. Doesn't he have enough on his plate without having to fight the Hulk as well?

But wait! What madness is this? It's January 1979 and Mighty World of Marvel is giving us a Hulk tale that was cover-dated, "December 1978," when first published in the US.

How is Marvel UK going to get round this problem of having caught up with the American originals? How?

Super Spider-Man #309, the Scorpion

I do believe this is the tale in which the Scorpion becomes convinced he can't get his costume off and decides to kill J Jonah Jameson, in revenge.

Other than that, I know nothing of this issue's contents, which is a bit sad, bearing in mind that the book is rapidly approaching its demise.

I do know, though, that that's not the greatest cover I've ever seen on a comic.

Tuesday 8 January 2019

The Marvel Lucky Bag - January 1969.

Hold on to your hats, true believers, because, before launching into my look at what Marvel's less glamourable heroes were up to in the books that bear this date of exactly fifty years ago, I have to make an earth-shattering announcement. Not to be outdone by the rest of the internet, Steve Does Comics now has a Patreon page which, I think, can be found by clicking on this very link.

To be honest, it's rubbish because I don't know what I'm doing but if there's anything you'd like to see added to it, in terms of incentives/rewards/content and the like, feel free to say so in the comments section below.

In the meantime, back to what you actually came here for:

January 1969 kicked off with Marmalade's version of Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da at Number One on the UK singles chart.

That was then knocked off the top slot by the Scaffold's Lily the Pink which was then itself knocked off the top by Marmalade's Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da.

The reader with a good memory will recall that Lily the Pink had already been Number One the previous month, before being kicked off its throne by Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da, meaning both songs had gone to Number One twice and both songs had succeeded in knocking the other off the top slot.

As if that wasn't thrilling enough, there was also another version of Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da on the chart that month, which was by the Bedrocks.

The one version of the song you wouldn't find on the chart was the one by the Beatles. Convinced it'd be a Number One, Paul McCartney'd lobbied for it to be released as a single but, fed up of playing it over and over again in the studio, the other Beatles had vetoed it.

Eventually, all this madness subsided and the month ended with Albatross by Fleetwood Mac at the top of the pile.

But, obviously, the real source of excitement for all true music fans, that month, was the presence on the singles chart of Mother Kelly's Doorstep by Danny La Rue.

When it came to albums, only two LPs ruled the UK roost that January and they were the Beatles' White Album, followed by The Best of the Seekers. I genuinely don't think I've ever heard any tracks by the Seekers in my entire life.

The New Seekers, on the other hand....

Captain Marvel #9

I know nothing of this issue, other than it features a character called Cyberex, which, to me, sounds more like the name of an international robotics convention than it does a super-villain.

Dr Strange #176

Strange and Clea are still battling the Sons of Satannish.

I do believe this is the story that leads to the good doctor adopting his, "Super-hero," costume.

Memory fails me as to why he needed it. Wasn't it because he wasn't allowed to re-enter our dimension and needed a disguise that could hoodwink the universe, in order to do it?

Or something?

Marvel Super-Heroes #18, Guardians of the Galaxy

Hooray! It's the start of a whole new era as the Guardians of the Galaxy make their star-spanning debut and, for the first time, the world gets to meet Groot, Gamora, Rocket Raccoon...

...Oh. Hold on. It's none of those people.

Instead, it's some other people.

And they're up against the Badoon, surely the worst race of aliens Marvel has ever come up with. Which is saying something, bearing in mind Marvel came up with the Krylorians.

I first read this tale in Marvel UK's Planet of the Apes. I can't say it exactly impressed me, although I did later develop a fondness for the team, thanks to their 1970s adventures.

Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #8

As always with SHIELD tales, I've never read this one.

However, it appears that someone called Supremus is ordering SHIELD to disband in the wake of Nick Fury's death.

Needless to say, no one at all listens to Supremus and reports of Fury's death turn out to be highly premature.

Sub-Mariner #9

I don't have a clue what happens in this one but I do know that it, apparently, features the first appearance of both Naga and Karthon.

I don't have a clue who either of those people are but they seem to be involved with the Serpent Crown and that can only mean bad news for the Sub-Mariner.

I believe I do detect a Herb Trimpe cover with fairly major alterations by other hands.

The Steve Does Comics mug, featuring Liz Sanford, the department of occult investigations, angry and holding a gun, cartoon, drawing, stephen walker

I've been called a mug many times in my life but, at last, it's literally true because the magnificent Steve Does Comics mug is now available from Teespring, in the USA, EU and UK.

One side features this site's lovely logo and the other features a drawing I once did of Liz Sanford, the tireless heroine of my Department of Occult Investigation stories.

Granted, I don't see what she has to do with this site but I felt I should put a picture of something on the reverse side and this one just happens to have the right colour scheme.

The mug's available for £11.99 in the UK and an equivalent price in Dollars/Euros elsewhere. So, if you're desperate for something to drink out of, why not try drinking from the blog that refuses to die?

The Steve Does Comics mug is produced specially to order and can be bought by clicking on this particular link.

Sunday 6 January 2019

Fifty years ago this month - January 1969.

If there was one set of people who were delighted when January 1969 arrived, it was people who like to sit down and bounce around.

That's because it was the month in which the Space Hopper was introduced to Britain.

I could write now about the hours of fun I had on my Space Hopper but I never had one.

I do remember having a go on someone else's but, to be honest, it was one of those things, like pogo sticking, whose appeal faded very rapidly once you realised it involved far more work than fun.

Elsewhere that month, Pete Best, the man who must himself have felt like a Space Hopper, the way he'd been bounced out of the Beatles, won his defamation suit against the Fab Four. Exactly what they'd said that he hadn't liked, I've no idea but I do know he'd been after an $8 million settlement but ended up having to accept far less.

Speaking of the Fabs; that month, they performed live, for the final time, on the rooftop of Apple Records, before the police showed up to ruin the fun.

Avengers #60, the wedding of the Wasp

It's one of those magnificent Marvel weddings where every super-hero in town shows up - and so do a bunch of super-villains.

You might think you'd need a doctorate in Idiocy to attack the Avengers Mansion when every hero in the Marvel Universe is inside it but the Circus of Crime passed that course with honours, and so it is that the gang who once got their backsides whupped by Daredevil tackle the mightiest super-team of them all and, at last, the not-so-stunning truth about Yellowjacket's true identity is revealed.

Captain America #109

In a sensational development no one could have seen coming, the book decides to break new ground and give us its 95th retelling of Cap's origin.

You know, I'm sure I write this same plot summary every month. It really does feel like Groundhog Day sometimes.

Possibly more intriguingly, this issue's letters page contains a missive from the pen of Don McGregor.

Captain America #109

If that's not one of Gene Colan's greatest DD covers, then I'm a pair of stilts.

It's true. The man who, I suppose, was technically Daredevil's arch-enemy is back, to try and put a stop to Foggy Nelson's attempt to become DA.

As I can see no other reason why Stilty would do it, I'm assuming some meddlesome manipulator like Richard Raleigh or the Masked Marauder must have put him up to it.

Needless to say, our hero puts a stop to such fiendish plans and Foggy is duly elected.

Fantastic Four #82, the Inhumans

The FF are back in the Great Refuge and I've no doubt Maximus is up to no good again.

To be honest, I really don't recall anything about this tale, other than that it existed.

Incredible Hulk #111

On the other hand, I recall plenty about this one.

Abducted by aliens, the Hulk decides to start dismantling their ship around them.

Fortunately for all concerned, it manages to arrive back home before it's too late.

But that only sets up the Hulk for a clash with the Galaxy Master, the most menacing mouth in comics.

Iron Man #9, the Hulk

I think I vaguely remember this one. Isn't, "The Hulk," actually an android creation of the Mandarin?

Beyond that, I've no idea what Mandy's plan is or why it involves a robot Hulk.

Robot Hulks seemed to be popular with super-villains. I recall both Doctor Doom and the Mad Thinker using them at various points.

Amazing Spider-Man #68, crisis on campus

Stan the Man gets radical, as the students of ESU protest about something or other and the Kingpin decides to use the disruption as a smokescreen while he and his men steal a priceless tablet that's being kept on display there.

Thor #160, Galactus

Galactus is causing all kinds of trouble for the colonisers of Rigel, and Thor must go to their aid.

X-Men #52, Erik the Red

After all these years, I still know nothing of Erik the Red. Wasn't he Cyclops in disguise?

If so, I don't have a clue why he was doing it.