Thursday, 31 October 2019

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

Hooray! It's Halloween, that special time of year when we kick-start our broomsticks; and those of us from the miserable North get our chainsaws out, in an attempt to cut a face into a rock-hard turnip.

What ghoulies will we be grabbed by? What ghosties will tweak our toes as we lie in bed?

Only time can tell.

But first, have you ever wanted to go to Mars?

I know I have.

Actually, I haven't, it looks like a terrible place, but, for the sake of this introduction, I'm going to pretend I do.

That's because, forty years ago tonight, someone was going to the Red Planet.

And that someone was none other than Flash Gordon.

It's true. The saviour of the universe was taking a break from liberating Mongo, thanks to a BBC Two hosted episode of his classic serial Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars. I'm one hundred percent certain I've seen it. I'm also one hundred percent certain I don't remember it.

Anyway, I'm assuming Ming the Merciless turned out to be the villain of the piece, regardless of its setting.

Later that evening, the same channel was showing the latest instalment of the legendary music show The Old Grey Whistle Test, introduced by Anne Nightingale.

The main point of interest in that week's edition, for me, is it featured a performance by Bruce Woolley who, I believe, has the distinction of having released a version of Video Killed the Radio Star before the Buggles did.

Sadly, not for for Bruce the honour of having had a Number One single and the first track ever played on MTV, as, despite not being radically different to the Buggles' take, his version failed to chart or get noticed by anyone. It lacks the bit that goes, "Ooh-a, ooh-a," and the keyboard skills of Geoff Downes, and it seems that that, in this life, is the difference between triumph and catastrophe

Star Wars Weekly #88

I have it on good authority that Darth Vader is still causing chaos for our heroes.

Meanwhile, the Guardians of the Galaxy are up against the Reavers of Arcturus who I have a feeling may be old enemies of Star-Lord and that woman he keeps turning into.

Elsewhere, the Watcher's warning us of The Menace From the Purple Planet and there's some sort of story featuring the Destroyer vs Thanos, of which I have no recall. I would assume, though, that the Destroyer's likely to be acting like Mr Grumpy Pants all the way through it.

Hulk Comic #35

The Hulk and Machine Man are still on collision course, thanks to the evil Corporation but still haven't actually reached each other yet.

Ant-Man's still stuck at insect size and still being chased around the countryside by Egghead, thanks to having allied himself with the villain's niece.

That niece is also in the Hulk story. Coincidence is a strange thing.

Meanwhile, we're still being treated to a very prolonged re-telling of Captain Britain's entire history.

Nick Fury's still being pursued by SHIELD who think he's a traitor.

And the Eternals are still battling the Cosmic Hulkbot.

Doctor Who Weekly #3, Tom Baker

Thanks to the evils of the Iron Legion, the Doctor finds himself in a Roman-style arena, having to fight a big blobby monster while armed with nothing more than a dead man's trident.

Someone call for Flash Gordon because, while he's on Mars, its inhabitants are causing nothing but trouble on Earth in Marvel's continuing adaptation of The War of the Worlds.

How great would it be if someone wrote a Flash Gordon/War of the Worlds mash-up?

Elsewhere, we get an adaptation of The Dead Planet, which my Steve-Senses tell me was the opening episode of the show's first-ever Dalek story.

Spectacular Spider-Man Weekly #347, the Spider-Slayer

Peter Parker's trying to get back with MJ but has bigger problems on his hands than that because both J Jonah Jameson and Professor Smythe are out to get him.

The FF are up against evil caricatures of themselves, created by a child. It's a tale I've read elsewhere but have no recollection of ever having encountered in a Marvel UK book. This means I've either never read this issue or I have and have simply forgotten about it.

Meanwhile, Godzilla's captured by alien invaders! I suspect it won't be long before  they learn to regret it.

Also included: Iron Man's up against Firebrand, Thor's battling the gods of Ancient Egypt, and Daredevil's up against the Man-Bull.


Timothy Field said...

Were the evil FF distinguishable by their Mr Spock style eyebrows, or am I thinking of a different evil FF?

Steve W. said...

The evil FF did indeed have very distinctive and dramatic eyebrows.

Anonymous said...

Steve, didn't the ITV strike end around this time? I don't know the exact date when the strike ended but I'm pretty sure it was late October, during the school half-term holiday. I also recall that one of the first things to be broadcast after ITV's return was the Quatermass mini-series starring John Mills... or is my memory deceiving me?

Steve W. said...

I think it was around this time. For some reason, I always associate that Quatermass series with the ITV strike, so you may well be right about that as well.

Killdumpster said...

Looks like I'm going to be off work for a few more weeks, so I think I'll crush those Flash Gordon serials.

That hippie guy that the Hulk hooked up with was annoying. I can't even remember his name. I do remember a panel were it appeared he was smoking a joint. Funny it passed the Code.

Always happy to see a Spider-Slayer, as well as Firebrand.

Is the DD story the one where Man-Bull was manipulated by the Matador?

Anonymous said...

Not to seem pedantic Steve, but wasn't it Star-Hawk in Guardians of the Galaxy who used to keep turning into a woman, not Star-Lord?

"Adaptation" implies Dr Who Weekly did a comic version of Dead Planet; no doubt this was unintentional on your part, but its worth pointing out that the retelling promised on the cover was the second of regular text features outlining early tv episodes.
The third comic strip was some nonsense about Daleks by (I think) regular back-up writer Steve Moore and David Lloyd, continued from #1.

If you want to read a War of the Worlds mash-up I highly recommend the second League of Extraordinary Gentleman book (no Flash Gordon, but you do get John Carter, the Invisible Man, Mr Hyde and Captain Nemo in it).


Anonymous said...

Kd, I seem to recall dope smoke helps turn the Hulk back into puny Banner.
Does medical marijuana mean the end of old Jade Jaws?


Steve W. said...

Sean, you're right. I always get Star-Lord and Star-Hawk mixed up. Thanks for the Dead Planet clarification. I knew there was a Dalek based picture strip in this issue and assumed it was the Dead Planet re-telling.

KD, I can shed no light on just which DD vs Man-Bull encounter we were getting this issue.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

It's snowing in Chicago. Most of the suburbs have postponed the Trick or Treating today until Saturday.

Personally, just my opinion, the moms and dads today are a bunch of candy asses... I recall numerous Halloweens in my youth that had snow (uncommon) or rain (fairly common) in the 1960s. The last thing parents or kids were going to do was postpone it... no one really gave a hoot about the day in the first place. "IF you want candy, go get it kid..."

Even 10 years ago with my kids, they went out rain or snow or cold...

Charlie agrees.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

KD - important question! (I'm serious, too!)

I was watching this in B&W DVDs with my kids, and then I had to give it back to the library before we finished it... and for the last 12 years my kids have been torqued off at me.

Flash (and Dale and Doc?) are tied up to stakes/planks or the equivalent and Ming (?) and a laser-like gun is slowly tracing it's path towards them to kill them... It's got to be 4-5 episodes into the entire run of around 15 episodes?

Anyhow, that's when I took the DVDs back, just before our hero(s) were going to get their jewels toasted.

My kids (and I still can't believe this!) nag me about being a dolt and taking the DVDs back just when the excitement was peaking!

I should have blamed it on Charlie but wasn't thinking quick enough!

Anonymous said...

Sean, some of the stanky weed floating around today might make Banner even more of a Hulk, paranoid and jumpy, panicking every time a helicopter flies over, or maybe make make him even dumber.
That's a Hulk we don't need.
Speaking of the Hulk, I always thought Man-bull was kind of a third-rate Hulk.
Marvel would let him outta his pen every few years. Then he'd run amuck, charge Daredevil, Daredevil would leap out of the way and Man-bull would run into a wall. And that was it.
But who would be on shovel detail afterwards?


Charlie Horse 47 said...

MP - How many animals in the animal kingdom were turned into villains? I'll hold on while you count them up... lol.

Presumably Plankton was spared the embarrassment though he sure gives Sponge Bob Square Pants a run for his money, by golly!

Anonymous said...

Charlie, I ain't gonna bite that apple. NOBODY knows how many supervillains have been named after animals.
One of my favorites was Hellgrammite, who was named after the larvae of a Dobson Fly. He was defeated by Black Canary, if memory serves.
I don't know why he was named that, since his power was jumping around and spinning webs.
I think all a Hellgrammite can do is bite stuff.
I confess a certain affection for Squirrel Girl...


Killdumpster said...

As far which Gordon serial had him pegged down with an impending laser beam I can't recall which one.

I'm going to try and watch all 3, so I'll let you know when I find out.

As far as plankton based characters, there's been so many moss-type monsters (Swamp Thing, Man-Thing, Glob, Heap , etc) that I'd be surprised if they didn't have a small amount in their make-up.

Sean & M.P.-
I never saw the Hulk actually take a "hit", so did he change just from second-hand smoke?

From personal experience, I believe the pot of the 70's was mellower than today's stuff. I never got paranoid back then, but that was just me. With other folks it could have been different.

Last time I partaked was a couple years ago. I did get a small dosage of paranoia. I'll never do it again.

It would've been funny if the Hulk had acquired a taste for it. Marvel could have done another intercompany crossover. Hulk vs. The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers would've been awesome!

I can see the Leader operating a giant robotic water-bong!! Lmao!!!

Killdumpster said...

The Murder Module would make a good bong, lol.

Killdumpster said...

Was thinking that, since yesterday was Halloween, it would've been cool to have the topic drift off into horror movies.

As I know we've BS'd about a lot of our favorites, I'll ask if there's anything that is new, or new-for-you, that might have been viewed this past year that could be a recommendation, oh my brothers.

Killdumpster said...

I agree with you on the League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Those were excellent books.

I wish the movie would've done better. It would've been great to have a sequel involving the "War Of The Worlds" theme.

Plus, I'm a big Peta Wilson fan. Looks like I'll be playing that in the DVD player tonight.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

OK MP – if you don’t have the stomach to count up animals based on villains let’s try this…

Are there any other genres after which villains were named after?! Grains, vegetables: Legume Man? Carrot Head?

KD – Leave it to you to come up with “Swamp-related” LOL.

I did like the Glob, especially his 2nd appearance around Hulk 128 (?). Hulk felt sorry for Glob, so did Charlie… until Glob pearl-harbored his ass, lol!

Killdumpster said...

My boy, PLANT MAN! C'mon Charlie, Poison Ivy, Hemlock, Thorn, Rose, Black Orchid, etc. Veggies are easy for characters.

Killdumpster said...

I was a big fan of Flaming Carrot comics. Highly recommend.

Killdumpster said...

Groot is a tree! The swamp monsters I mentioned are veggies. Loads of flora & fawna in the comics kingdom. That would be a site unto itself!

Anonymous said...

Animals, vegetables... what about minerals Charlie? Like the Stone Men from Saturn.

Kd, it was passive smoking (pretty sure we're on about the same Hulk story).


Killdumpster said...

I actually attempted to watch a low-budget superhero movie called Corn-Man.
Evode at all costs, oh my brothers.

Killdumpster said...

Tried to get through it, but it "went against my grain". Lol.

(Drum & cymbal rift)

Killdumpster said...

Yeah, Sean. The stories with the Hulk in a hippy's van.

How about Doom Patrol's villain, Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man? I always dug him, and he covers a lot of bases.

Anonymous said...

I've got a couple Flaming Carrot comics.
"The wild shall wild remain!!!"
There was also a Carrot Man who had a couple run-ins with Plastic Man.


Anonymous said...

And don't forget Captain Carrot M.P.
Although he wasn't a carrot, which is a bit confusing.


Anonymous said...

Btw, M.P., heres something for you, seeing as you were interested in LeCarre's new book when the Charlies bought it up the other day-


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Le Carre's autobiography is quite interesting. It can be skimmed to some degree and just glom on to what interest's you.

Revealing the biggest secret in Mi6 was Rudolph Hess's pants, stuck behind the head dude's safe since 1941, was mind blowing!

Charlie Horse 47 said...

We could name villains after action verbs! The leaper, the jumper, the runner, the puncher, the elbower...

Given Charlie only recognizes Batroc the Leaper out of all that, he thinks this is a very under-exploited, target-rich opportunity!

Anonymous said...

Might well check that out M.P. - LeCarre has interesting stuff to say, but he can also be quite reactionary so an autobiography where you can easily skip parts sounds good.


Anonymous said...

Speaking of Lecarre, I really liked the Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy film from a few years back.
It was a "who's who" of great actors from the U.K. Those guys were heavy hitters.
I also realized something--how many of those guys have been in superhero movies.
Lessee, there was Commissioner Gordon, Bane, Dr. Strange, Arnim Zola, Steppenwolf, and Dr. Sivana.

I'll check out that link, Sean!


Dougie said...

Quatermass did headline the 1979 ITV autumn season, so those of you who recall it were correct. Episode 2 went out on 31st Oct 1979. I missed it though because we went to see Moonraker that night in Hamilton (I think- my teenage diary is maddeningly imprecise).

This was probbaly the second BBC broadcast of Flash Gordon's Trip To Mars; it was first shown in the summer of 1977 and again in 1988, according to BBC Genome. Ming forms an alliance with Azura, Queen of Magic. She turns her enemies into Clay People and numerous musical cues from The Bride of Frankenstein are re-used. Comedy relief is provided by reporter Happy Hapgood.

Anonymous said...

'Flash Gordon' (the original 1936 serial) was first broadcast on BBC 1 over Christmas 1976 in daily episodes. 'Flash Gordon's Trip To Mars' was shown in weekly episodes during the Summer and early Autumn of 1977 and 'Flash Gordon Conquers The Universe' was shown in daily episodes over Christmas 1977. I watched them all :)

KD, I recently watched the DVD of 'The Curse Of La Llorona' which I enjoyed so I'd recommend it - quite a scary movie and La Llorona herself was pretty terrifying.

Anonymous said...

Charlie, sounds like you might have been asking about what happens after Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe episode 4.
Episode 5 is at
(Start around the 3.15 mark to skip the intro and recap)


Killdumpster said...

Yep, it was indeed Flash Gordon Conquers The Universe that Charlie was asking about. Just watched it this afternoon.

Killdumpster said...

Pouring over my serial collection, I remembered I didn't keep Flash Gordon's Trip To Mars. The inclusion of that goofball Happy Hapgood guaranteed that I would probably never watch it again.

The Clay People were pretty cool, though.

Killdumpster said...

Thanks for suggesting Curse Of La Llorona. I looked it up, and it appears to be part of the Conjuring series, of which I am a big fan.

Anonymous said...

That article was very interesting. I'm not surprised that an old MI6 guy would be appalled by America's current foreign policy (if you wanna call it that) particularly with regards to Russia.