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.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Did any of you UK guys feel compelled to buy Spidey for the pogo stick?

Steve W. said...

Personally, I always had a deep distrust of pogo sticks and, after trying one just once, never felt any need to ever go on one again.

Timothy Field said...

This might just be a contender for worst Marvel UK week ever. Not a great selection on offer there

Anonymous said...

Surely the most notable event in music this week forty years ago was that Joy Division recorded a version of Transmission (and the rest of their first session for the BBC) on this very date, Jan 31st Steve.

On his website Dez Skinn attributes the lack of a cover date on that issue of Marvel Comic to the disruption caused by the Winter of Discontent, and the same goes for why the next issue was dated early March.
As something very similar happened with Spider-Man Comic, it looks like this feature will be quite a brief read over the course of next month...


Anonymous said...

C'mon Tim, look at that Marvel Comic cover -
Secret Agents! Dinosaurs! Vampires! And Pirates! Not to mention the Hulk v the Thing.
What more do you want from a comic?


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Sean - you left out the pogo stick!

Anonymous said...

Charlie, in some deep, existential way don't we all leave out the pogo stick? Isn't that basically the human condition?


dangermash said...

Yes - that Spider-Man story is the old one you're thinking about, Steve. It's from Marvel Super Heroes #14, which came out about the same time as ASM #60, so is being reprinted years and years out of sequence. It had already been reprinted in the U.K. before, in that A3-sized Spider-Man compilation thing. The Supehero Holiday Grabbag sized thing. You know the one.

But this must mean that last week's Spider-Man comic got through the whole of that Chameleon story from ASM #186 in just one week! Dez must have been ripping huge chunks out of the story as well as rearranging panels. Clueless. And I've just realised that ASM 182-185 have all been skipped. He has no idea about continuity. He's obviously pining for the 1960s with Fantastic, Pow, Valliant, etc all reprinting Marvel stories in random order.

And as for the Dukes of Hazard, charging round doing whatever they wanted causngball does of damage and never getting into trouble with the law, they reminded me too much of why I never really liked the Fantastic Four. And Dez.

Steve W. said...

Thanks for the Marvel Super-Heroes confirmation, Dangermash.

If they really did get through the whole of that Chameleon story last week, that's a serious achievement, bearing in mind it was only given three pages. Dez must've been seriously cramming in those panels.

Sean, it's going to be like having a holiday, covering Marvel UK's output over the next month.

Tim, things'll pick up next week because it'll be time to look at the monthlies again.

Aggy said...

Star Wars is still reprinting the Pizzazz stories waiting for the US main comic to get back ahead a little.

Let's be honest, every episode of Dukes of Hazard was basically the same. After seeing one you just stuck around for Daisy

Timothy Field said...

Been looking through a few of the Star Wars issues from this era. Blimey they seem thin and flimsy compared to MWOM and SSM only months before. As for the editing of Spidey stories under Dez, does anyone know of any back to back comparisons with the originals?

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Sten Guns vs. Pogo Sticks???

I was reading somewhere that you UK guys could actually buy Sten Guns out of your comics back in the 40s or 50s?

(I think our NRA or someone was saying that we kids in the USA were having our rights infringed upon b/c we could only buy Daisy BB guns out of our comics?)

Then one day there was a shoot out with some kid and his Sten Gun and that was that? No more Sten guns for kids?

But I was wondering how many of you guys had older brothers, uncles, dads, etc. who bought them? OR maybe you yourself bought one? (WHere'd you get your bullets?)

In particular with the impending food shortages with Brexit those Sten Guns could come in handy???

Good luck mates!!!

Colin Jones said...

January 30th was the 40th anniversary of Heart Of Glass reaching No.1 and the 50th anniversary of the Beatles rooftop concert.

February 3rd will be the 60th anniversary of Buddy Holly's death.

February 7th will be exactly 20 years since Blondie's Maria reached No.1 in the UK, their final British chart-topper.

Steve W. said...

Aggy, thanks for the Star Wars info. I fail to see why they couldn't have just redrawn old Killraven stories as Star Wars tales. I'm sure we'd never have noticed anything funny was going on.

Tim, I'm not aware of any back-to-back comparisons but I'm sure there must be some out there somewhere.

Charlie, I've never heard anything about Sten guns being made available via comics and it certainly didn't happen when I was a kid. The most we ever got offered were spud guns.

Colin, I'd totally forgotten about Maria getting to Number One. When writing the post, I thought about saying that Blondie had had three Number Ones. I nearly dropped a major clanger there.

ColinBray said...

Hi Charlie, legend has it that a distant East End cousin of mine actually did buy a Stem Gun through a comic. I didn't believe it until I saw that a UK Wertham copyist mentioned the case in an obscure 1950s anti-comic tract.

Killdumpster said...

The Dukes of Hazzard series was inspired by the film Moonrunners, which is highly entertaining. For the tv show they omitted the moonshine aspect, and injected silly, goofy "humor". Thank goodness I was of driving age and was always "out-n-about", not assaulting my sensibilities with that mindless, formulatic dribble.

There was so much of that stuff during that time period. A-Team, Magnum PI, and even Incredible Hulk could be categorized as such, though I still enjoy the Hulk'S tv movies.

I guess you could lump Kolchack the Night Stalker in there too, but that show was paradise for a "monster kid". Plus it actually had a body count! Lol!!

James Best who played Roscoe in the Dukes was actually a good actor. He had done a number of western/rural based episodes of the Twilight Zone that are great.

How about Sten guns MOUNTED on pogo sticks?!!

Sounds like a better Spidey villain than the Big Wheel or Rocket Racer! Lol!

Killdumpster said...

He could've been called "Pogo-Punisher"!!!

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Yea Colin... I think I also read about that Brit kid with his Sten gun, dueling it out with the cops in the Wertham book as well! (Yes I actually read it, and confess to being in accord with a lot of it.)

Anyhow the kid was shot dead by police and they found his Sten gun and a comic as well. Really tragic. You have to assume that, given the time of this, around later 40s (?)that the kid was probably reading something like Crime Does Not Pay since Superheroes were passe at that point.

What were they thinking allowing kids to buy Sten guns through comics???

I'm glad I never got my hands on a Sten gun. As it is I shot my buddy in the eye (truly!) with my BB gun. He was pretty angry with me but I did not hit him in the iris, just the white, so it was OK.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

In all honesty, that Sten gun is a gutsy looking weapon with the side-mounted mag.

TC said...

Saw a video on Youtube of an interview with Michael Caine, who served in the British Army in Korea. He said that the Sten was notoriously unreliable and prone to jamming, and, worse, was prone to accidental discharges. He described an incident in training where a soldier stopped pressing the trigger, but the Sten continued to fire fully automatic. The guy turned to ask the drill sergeant what to do, and, of course, the gun turned with him, still firing the burst. Caine said you would not have believed a squad of soldiers could dive for cover so fast.

Anonymous said...

The M16 was a piece of crap too. The damn thing would jam if you just looked at it funny or said an unkind word. But don't take my word for it, I was never in combat. Targets on a range don't shoot back. But guys who have been in war have said the same thing, going all the way back to Viet Nam.


Killdumpster said...

A gun enthusiast friend of mine told me the same thing, about Stens jamming. He has a couple Thompsons,but rarely shoots them. He said if he shoots with anything it's his MP40 or an Uzi.

That's his opinion as a collector. He was never in the military, so he has no field experience.

dangermash said...

KD - by kicking off the Spider-Man comic with that Chameleon story, Our Dez skipped the Rocker Racer/Big Wheel two parter in ASM #181-183 (as well as whatever was in the next two issues). I never had you down as a SkinnHead. I'm sadly shaking my head at this point.

Dougie said...

The Ross Andru Spidey story was reprinted in the first Spidey Treasury, wasn't it? I'd need to lift a few longboxes to check and I sustained a rotator cuff injury, moving house last summer. So I won't.

The Dukes of Hazzard bored me stupid at the time but John Schneider is my all-time favourite Jonathan Kent.

Charlie Horse 47 said...


Where else can one talk about comic books and machine guns?

Charlie Horse 47 said...

And it comics that bring it all together! I mean, if UK comics had not been selling Sten guns, we would never have learned about M16s!!!

Steve W. said...

Dougie, that Sorcerer tale is indeed reprinted in the first Spider-Man Treasury Edition.

Charlie, comics and submachine guns, it's a natural combination. It does remind me of the unlikely fact that Europe's oldest working amusement park ride - Sir Hiram Maxim's Captive Flying Machine at Blackpool Pleasure Beach - was invented by the man who invented the portable machine gun. It's very strange the things that are associated with each other in this world.

Killdumpster said...

Yikes, DM!

I'm alot of things (and have been called alot more) but "skinhead" has never been one of them! Lol!

Uh-oh, my Spidey persecution complex sense just kicked in!

Really, what made you think I'm a skinhead?

Killdumpster said...

Guess I should've used the analogy of Pogo-Punisher being better than the Gibbon & Kangaroo. Was just thinking about lame villains off the top of my head.

Sorry if I offended anyone.

Killdumpster said...

I have never read the Big Wheel/Rocket Racer issues. My comics subscriptions were still flowing in after I left home for art school in Pittsburgh.

When I'd come home once every couple months there'd be a big pile of books on my bed. I'd take the brown wrappers off all of them. When I took the wrapper off the Spider-Man books and saw Big Wheel & Rocket Racer my first thought was,"A guy on a jet-skateboard and a guy in a vehicle named after my little sister's plastic tri-cycle. LAME!" Never read'em.

The only time I remembered those guys was from Steve's previous posts.

I didn't realize that storyline involved racism. I just thought they were both just throw-away, one-story, seeming pathetic bad guys.

Ok, I'm through defending myself.

Killdumpster said...

In the words of Eric Burden:

"Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood."

Steve W. said...

KD, by, "Skinnhead," I think Dangermash simply meant you're a fan of Dez Skinn.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Gents - let me recount this so that you can tell me where I am wrong so I can finally learn this one and for all???

KD - This guy named Dez Skinn took over Marvel UK comics 40 years ago this week (or so). Apparently, Marvel UK burned through all of Marvel US's stories and ran out of material to reprint. Marvel UK was apparently reprinting more than one issue of FF, Spidey, etc. per month so they quickly enough reached the present time (at that time).

For some reason, enter Dez Skinn. (The editor he replaced went on to be one of the two guys in the Pet Shop Boys.) On his www site Dezz states he "saved Marvel UK comics."

So, we are now entering Marvel UK's period of Dezz Skinn's "Revolution" in which he saves Marvel UK comics. I think he saved MUK b/c they had run out of stuff to reprint and now MUK was serving up its own original stuff? Or? What the hell did Dezz do again that was revolutionary?

IN the meantime, Dezz single-handedly starts a revolution that saves MUK just at a time in the UK when there are massive strikes (work actions as the gents call them) which jacks up the distribution of comics throughout the UK.

So some of the guys above are warning that this is going to be a lean few months for Steve b/c MUK didn't produce anything that was distributed.

Geeze... I think it's easier to recount stories about machine guns, LOL.

Killdumpster said...

HAHAHA HAHAHA HAHAHAH!!!! "CHOKE!" HAHAHAHA HAHAHA HAHAHAHA!!!! "Fart!" HAHAHA HAHAHA!!!! Slorrrt! (Snot running out of nostrils).

Ha ha, ahhh. Hmmm. Excuse me guys, and especially to you, Steve , and Dangermash.

Guess just like the weather, the political climate here in the states must be getting the best of me. Lmao (even more!)

Killdumpster said...

Now I want a machine gun. A Thompson with a barrel clip. And a zoot suit. And a gangster moll that looks like a combination of Lauren Bacall & Jessica Rabbit.

Killdumpster said...

No, Lauren Bacall was close to perfect. (Still chuckling.)

Killdumpster said...

No, Lauren Bacall was close to perfect. (Still chuckling.)

dangermash said...

Yes Steve/KD Skinnhead, not skinhead.

I bet Dez is at home now, hacking up his clothes with scissors so he can fit more in his wardrobe.

TC said...
This comment has been removed by the author.