Thursday, 14 March 2019

March 14th, 1979 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

At first I was afraid. I was petrified.

That's right, I'd just realised I have to write another blog post.

However, it seems I'm not the only one to know what it is to feel the cold grasp of terror in my heart because, in this week of 1979, Gloria Gaynor was feeling it too.

For, it was in that week that her iconic single I Will Survive climbed to the top of the UK singles chart, holding off Elvis Costello's Oliver's Army in the process.

The Number One album that week was Spirits Having Flown by the Bee Gees.

And there was good news for all fans of those acts because the 8th of that month saw Philips give the first public demonstration of a fancy new technology called the compact disc. I still remember how Tomorrow's World presenters would smear jam all over one, hit it with a hammer and then put it in the microwave to demonstrate its near-indestructibility.

Personally, I never dared do that with any of my compact discs, as I wasn't quite so convinced of their resilience.

Nor, given recent turmoil, was I convinced about the resilience of our favourite comics company.

Still, there was at least an easy way to find out how they were doing.

Star Wars Weekly #55

The nation celebrates as Marvel UK's best-selling mag returns after disappearing without trace last week.

What hasn't returned is my memory of its contents. As so often with this book, I've not the slightest clue what happens in this issue. I would assume that Warlock and The Micronauts are still the back-up strips and that there's still a Tales of the Watcher type twist-ender in there, as well.

Hulk Comic #2

There's nothing like having a great cover to encourage people to buy your comic.

Which makes it a mystery why this issue has one of the dullest covers I've ever seen in my life. Seriously, the logo, the drawing, the blurb at the top, the whole thing looks like the latest issue of a self-produced fanzine, rather than a major title from one of the world's great comics publishers.

When it comes to the contents, still very much following the formula of the TV show, Bruce Banner arrives in a new town, encounters a taxi driver called Jody and then rescues her, as the Hulk, when she gets trapped beneath the burning wreckage of her cab.

Hold on. Taxi driver? Jody? Is it mere coincidence or am I seeing some sort of tribute to a certain Martin Scorsese film?

Elsewhere in this issue, Nick Fury has to deal with a traitor in his midst.

We also get a Tharg's Future Shock type tale about a man arranging a meeting with aliens, in order to dominate mankind. Needless to say, it does not end well for him when they finally do show up.

Meanwhile, Ant-Man sets out to foil a group of communist agents who've burst into his lab but, instead, he ends up having to fight an ant. There aren't many super-hero strips where you have to use the phrase, "Has to fight an ant."

Night-Raven's dealing with some hoods by pretending to be a blind man.

Strangely, the issue finishes off with a second Hulk strip - and it's the Herb Trimpe drawn one where our hero goes to Canada and encounters the Mimic and the Beast. Whether this tale's there to appease fans of the real Hulk or whether it's meant to acclimatise new readers to the feel of the true Hulk comics, I've no idea. However, it had already been reprinted, several years earlier, in The Mighty World of Marvel, so its presence here probably annoyed me at the time.

Marvel Comic #333, Godzilla

Rargh! Take that, world! Godzilla's US comic may be mere months away from cancellation but that doesn't prevent the big green galoot replacing the Hulk as the star of Marvel UK's flagship title.

Beyond that, I can reveal nothing of the contents of this book.

Spider-Man Comic #314

And all I can reveal about this issue is that it features a team-up between Spider-Man and Moon Knight.

I would assume, therefore, that it's reprinting Spectacular Spider-Man #22, in which the dynamic duo find themselves up against a Maggia plot to bump off the nocturnal croissant flinger.


Timothy Field said...

The new style covers certainly did look amateurish. But what do I know, I clearly remember saying the phrase "compact disc will never catch on" in this very year in history.

Anonymous said...

To be fair Tim, that is history's fault rather than yours.
From a longer perspective though, we can now see that vinyl will outlast cds. Yay.

Taxi Driver is an alright film, but I'm not sure I'd welcome its influence on comics - "You lookin' at Hulk?" doesn't have anything like the same ring to it as "Hulk smash puny human!"


pete doree said...

I remember that edition of Tomorrow's World, and after they did all that, the CD didn't work, did it?

Meanwhile, even as a kid, I was like: "MaGGia?? Who d'you think you're fooling, Stan?"

Killdumpster said...

Having worked in the "music business" in aspects of retail, wholesale, live sound & disc jockeying since I was 17, I truly believe that vinyl has a richer, warmer mid-range & bass than
a CD played through a standard sound system.

That being said, with a better than average system (superior sampling, better speakers W/sub-woofers, pre-amp & EQ unit) CD's can sound just as good or better.

Don't get me wrong. I LOVE vinyl. I held out until new releases were unavailable on LP.

I had 20 orange crates packed with records. Between that and my comics collection, no one ever wanted to help me move. Lol.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

I have to admit the Hulk and Spidey covers look like they could be coloring books for toddlers, lol.

But hey! At least your "workers actions" are over at this point and is no longer blizzard conditions?

Charlie Horse 47 said...

And, I never saw a CD until 1983 and the dude who had them first (in the frat house) treated them like they were fragile. Never got a CD until maybe 1986. Well, I was never at the cutting edge of technology, lol.

Paul Mcscotty said...

I thought the format of Marvel comic etc to reflect UK comics format with several 3 page strips each week was strange. It was obvious that UK traditional comics by 1979 were on the way out, with the exception of 2000AD. Never mind CDS at this time I stupidly moved over to cassette tape. Amazing to see hundreds of CDS in charity shops now at 4 for £1 considering how costly they were when they first came out.Vinyl for me is the best format but took up too much space.

Anonymous said...

I definitely remembered that Kieran Prenderville did the CD demonstration on Tomorrow's World so I googled him and the jam incident is mentioned - he used a CD of the Bee Gees' next album, LIVING EYES, from 1981. I'd remembered him using a Bee Gees CD but I thought it was SPIRITS HAVING FLOWN.

I never bought a vinyl album - it was cassettes then CDs for me. Last month was exactly 30 years since I first bought a CD player. My first two CDs were an Elvis greatest hits and Motown Chartbusters Volume something (there were lots of them).
I've had my current CD player since December 1998 and it still works fine though I rarely use it nowadays.

Anonymous said...

Steve, I had a look at a clip of the Tomorrows World cd demonstration (more like record industry propaganda to get us into a new format and buy the same old stuff all over again if you ask me) - at

As you can see, there is no jam. It would appear thats a myth; perhaps you got mixed up with another programme (theres a clip from Breakfast tv of someone spreading honey on a cd).

Colin, I am amazed you've had the same working cd player for so long - I find they go wrong quite easily. The first time I tried to get one fixed the geezer in the shop told me to throw it away as it was cheaper just to buy a new one.
No wonder we're living through an eco-catastrophe.


Steve W. said...

Sean, Pete and Colin, I have a feeling I may be misremembering a comedy show that sent up the claims about CDs and did it in the style of Tomorrow's World.

Paul, The Britishification of Marvel UK's books was always baffling to me, as it was precisely the fact that Marvel comics weren't like British comics which gave them their appeal.

Tim, Paul, KD and Charlie, I stuck with cassettes until the very late 1990s, when I finally gave in and got a CD player.

dangermash said...

I'm confused by the pic of the Vision on the front off Spider-Man. Surely he didn't have his own strip? Was there a sixth strip that was left off the cover?

dangermash said...

Or maybe there were six strips and somebody drew six circle so on the cover forgetting that Spider-Man was one of the six?

Steve W. said...

According to the blurb at the top of the cover, there are seven strips in that issue, so I would assume the Vision features in the seventh. I wonder if it's a Marvel Team-Up tale that features Spidey and the Vision?

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Chaps! Do I have the oldest CD Player that (I assume) still works? I bought mine in 1988! But I have not played a CD for 10 (?) years?

But... my son and I still do the vinyl now and then! Same receiver and turntable since 1985. All I had to do was buy a new needle a few years ago.

Threw out the tape player b/c the tapes had all more/less gone to sh%t after 20 - 25 years. It really hurt to do that b/c I really loved my 1983 college party tape. All the greats were on it: Culture Club, Soft Cell, Bowie, Duran Duran... Maybe just call it a British Invasion tape, lol.

Anonymous said...

I didn't even see or hear a CD till '87, when a bold feller showed it to some of us rubes. We thought it possibly supernatural in nature.
The song he played was "Here I Go Again" by Whitesnake. Ehhh.
A true Renaissance Man, that guy.
But cassettes were such a pain in the ass, rewinding and forwarding all the time and 8-tracks, yeesh.
Remember the cassette tape repair kit? A pencil! My Cheap Trick Dream Police tape went out like a warrior, having survived such combat for many years, and received an honorable burial.


dangermash said...

That Spider-Man /Vision is a good shout Steve. Probably right.

Anonymous said...

M.P. is right (strange times we live in, eh?). You can see the needle on a record as it turns or the tape running through a cassette, but how does sound come out of those shiny silver discs? I too suspect sorcery.


Dougie said...

I think the Vision strip was a Marvel Spotlight-style story by Scott Edelman and Herb Trimpe from the 1976 Avengers annual with Nuklo and Living Laser. Might've featured Whirlwind?

I don't remember the Mimic/ Beast story from Englehart's Hulk run being reprinted in MWOM. Neither the Mimic not the furry Beast had appeared in the UK at that time so I'm dubious about that.

Anonymous said...

So Kieran Prenderville never used any jam in the CD demonstration - but Wikipedia says he did so don't trust Wikipedia, kids. I couldn't actually remember any jam being spread on the CD but I assumed Steve had a better memory than me :)

But jam or no jam the CD demonstration was a memorable event anyway because Tomorrow's World was actually showing something we'd all be using in the future. Usually Tomorrow's World would demonstrate some amazing gadget which was never heard of again.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

M.P - you dig Cheap Trick??? DId you grow up in northerh Illinois or Indiana??? They still do little city summer fests around Chicago land (well... they did two years ago).

Steve W. said...

Colin, I'm still waiting for 12" laser discs to catch on, like Tomorrow's World said they would.

Dougie, thanks for the Vision info. Thinking about it, I don't remember that Beast/Hulk cover ever appearing on the front of MWOM, so you're probably right about the story never having featured in that comic.

Anonymous said...

Charlie, I ain't from Indiana, (Iowa, originally) but I'm a Cheap Trick man all the way. My brother too. Ever since my older sister bought one of their 8-tracks around...maybe '80.
We're mid-westerners, and we like our Cheap Trick, Bob Seger and Bachman Turner Overdrive.
They are the Holy Trinity. And ACDC. (We love Mellencamp too. My brother thinks he's God.)
We no longer have mullets (most of us), but to these sacred things we are loyal.
I knew a guy once who met Robin Zander, and got his autograph!
A strange light hovered around his head, as if he had been in the presence of...something beyond mortal comprehension.
You're from around Chicago, ain't ya Charlie? Now, some dang good bands came outta there.


Anonymous said...

Yes, the compact disc is the Devil's doorknob.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

MP - To show the breath and depth of Indiana/Illinois musical contributions, LOL...

Smashing Pumpkins, Styx, Chicago

Micheal Jackson from my hometown of Gary

Muddy Waters lived a few blocks from my current domicile (Had to get out of Chicago)

Hoagy Carmichael - Show me a kid who can't play "Heart and Soul" on the piano???

If I was forced to choose only one it'd be Hoagy. I really dig the scenes in "To Have and Have Not" with Bogey and Bacall where he plays "How little we know"... Only special affect he needed was a toothpick. Bogey with his cig... too cool.

Redartz said...

Ok, have to jump in on the CD discussion. Have a working player from 2000, iirc. Parted with all my vinyl just before it got hot again. Did keep my working vintage 1983 Sansui turntable, though- have it to my nephew who had started collecting vinyl.

Now it seems cassettes are staging a comeback; who would have suspected. As for CDs, I still buy them (often quite cheaply). Figure they could be the next format to enjoy a retro revival...

Steve W. said...

Redartz, I also still have a CD player I bought around the year 2000. I think it still works, although I've not tried using it for possibly a decade.

I'm afraid my love for cassettes was finally killed by my player eating one cassette too many. At last, after losing far too many valuable recordings, my patience snapped. As did the cassette's tape.