Thursday 28 November 2019

November 28th, 1979 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

Do you know how much of any interest happened in the world in this week of 1979?

Zero much of interest. There wasn't even any change at the top of the UK singles and album charts for us all to get excited about. Therefore, I shall demonstrate my legendary imagination by flinging myself straight into my look at what our favourite UK Marvel mags were up to in this week of that year.

Star Wars Weekly #92, Darth Vader vs Baron Tagge

I know little of this comic.

In fact, when I say, "little," I mean nothing.

The Guardians of the Galaxy are probably still having trouble with the Reavers of Arcturus, Deathlok's probably still having trouble with his creators, and the Watcher's probably providing us with another morality tale designed to give us pause about the way in which we conduct our lives.

It also looks like Baron Tagge's having problems with icicles.

Hulk Comic #39, the Silver Surfer

After all these issues, the Hulk's still fighting Machine Man.

You can't help feeling a fight between the two really shouldn't be lasting this long. In fact, I wouldn't have expected it to last for more than two panels - and one of those would involve Machine Man's body parts flying in various directions, while partially obscured by the word, "SMASH!!!"

Ant-Man and the Wasp are still trapped at insect size and still having trouble with the Whirlwind.

We're still working our way through the origins of the Black Knight and the Silver Surfer, while the Defenders are about to meet the Red Rajah who so isn't Dr Strange in disguise and no one could possibly ever suspect that he is.

Doctor Who Weekly #7, Tom Baker and Lis Sladen

The Iron Legion are still causing trouble for the universe and the Doctor.

We get a text piece about the ancient Doctor Who story The Keys of Marinus.

There's yet more of Marvel's adaptation of War of the Worlds. I can only hope it's being better received than the BBC's adaptation will be, exactly forty years later.

And that Cyberman's still investigating human emotion.

But, thrilling as that all is, it literally pales into insignificance beside the chance to win two portable televisions - even if they do look to be black and white.

But what's this? Someone's misspelt, "Delgado," on the cover? That's the sort of thing that can get you killed by a homicidal inflatable chair.

And, for that matter, for just how long has The Keys of Marinus been all one word?

Spectacular Spider-Mn Weekly #351, the Black Cat

Spidey's out to thwart the Black Cat who's determined to rescue her ailing dad from prison.

Is the Black Cat's dad the cat burglar who turned up in the strip, way back in Steve Ditko's day, just as the Master Planner storyline was about to break out?

Daredevil's fighting voodoo in Central Park, in the form of a man dressed as a skeleton who does things to chickens.

I think Godzilla's just polished off Red Ronin and has now found his true calling in life - terrorising cowboys.

The FF are in the Andromeda galaxy, trying to help the locals stave off the Skrulls in the Nova crossover we've recently been experiencing in the FF's American mag.

And Iron Man's still fighting the Super-Adaptoid at the Avengers Mansion. Needless to say, the villain they don't call, "Supie," is confident of victory.

Sunday 24 November 2019

2000 AD - October 1981.

If you live by the motto, "Ridicule is nothing to be scared of," then you were in paradise in October 1981.

That's because the month arrived in style with the UK singles chart ruled by Prince Charming from Adam and the Ants.

But, soon, it lost that spot to It's My Party by Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin which hogged the top slot for the rest of the month.

Over on the album chart, Genesis began October at Number One, with ABACAB, only to be deposed by the Police's Ghost in the Machine which, in turn, was forced to yield to the irresistible rise of the Human League's Dare.

Elsewhere in the music industry, something big was stirring because it was the month in which Queen released their Greatest Hits LP which has since gone on to become the UK's best-selling album of all time, just ahead of ABBA Gold and Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

On the football field, twenty four year-old Bryan Robson became Britain's most expensive footballer yet, with a £1.5 million move from West Bromwich Albion to Manchester United. The current British transfer record is the £89 million Manchester United paid for Paul Pogba from Juventus. Such is the nature of inflation.

Meanwhile, at the cinemas, October saw the release of Galaxy of Terror, which is a title that rings a bell, though I'm not sure if I've ever seen it, and Halloween II which I also can't recall if I've seen.

But scary-sounding films weren't all we had to keep us entertained that month, because we also had the Galaxy's greatest comic to keep us going.

It was still giving us The Mean Arena, Judge Dredd (who was suffering from Block Mania after sorting out The Hotdog Run), Tharg's Future Shocks and Rogue Trooper. 

However, the big news was that Prog 232 saw the debut of The Ace Trucking Co starring the pointy-headed Garp and sundry other characters I recall vaguely.

In other matters, I do wonder what the Zarjaz free gift was that came with that issue.

I have no recollection at all of KP Griddles, as advertised on the front of Prog 233. Apparently, they don't make them anymore, whatever they were.

I now have a craving for Rishy XL crisps. Whatever happened to Rishy XL? Once upon a time, you couldn't move for their crisps. Now, they're nowhere to be seen.

2000 AD 232, Ace Trucking

2000 AD 233, Judge Dredd

2000 AD 234, Rogue Trooper

2000 AD 235, Ace Trucking

2000 AD 236, Judge Dredd

Thursday 21 November 2019

November 21st, 1979 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

On this night in 1979, BBC One was broadcasting The Trouble With Tribbles, that dreadful warning about why you should never ever feed your pets.

Clearly, with such terror on the loose, I was going to have to take refuge in my record player but that meant I'd need an intimate knowledge of what was happening on the singles chart at the time.

What was happening was that Dr Hook were still Number One with When You're in Love With a Beautiful Woman but challenging hard were Queen, at Number Two, with Crazy Little Thing Called Love while the Jam were reigning supreme at Number Three with Eton Rifles.

What chance did we have against a tie and a crest?

None whatsoever.

And we may have, likewise, been no match for their untamed wit but were we a good match for Marvel UK's comics of that week?

Star Wars Weekly #91

I'm not sure what's going on with Darth Vader's eyes on this cover. I can only assume he's been taking some of Rick Jones' vitamin C tablets.

However, it's all drama as Domina Tagge tricks Vader and Luke Skywalker into having a duel in a location which guarantees both their deaths.

Despite this, I suspect they both survive to duel another day.

I suspect Domina Tagge may not prove to be quite so fortunate.

Upon the doings of the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Watcher, I can shed no light but I do know Deathlok's busy being crucified by his creators, for the crime of having a will of his own.

Needless to say, it's not long before he exerts that free will by smashing in their skulls.

I'm also aware that this issue's back cover features an add for that most majestic of all synthesizers the Stylophone.

Hulk Comic #38, Machine Man

The Hulk's still trying to rescues Trish Starr from Machine Man, even though Machine Man doesn't have her.

Ant-Man and the Wasp are now both stuck at insect size and at the mercy of the Whirlwind. Some scientists they turned out to be.

We're still getting the origins of both the Black Knight and the Silver Surfer.

Meanwhile, the Defenders are up against the terror of the Cobalt Man, as Egghead continues his attempts to get his hands on some jewel or other.

Spectacular Spider-Man #350, the Cat

Spidey and the Black Cat are getting randy again.

Elsewhere, Aunt May's recovered from the death that so threatened to disrupt her comic book career.

My knowledge of the back-up strips is patchy but I do know Iron Man's up against the Super-Adaptoid who's shown up at the Avengers Mansion for some reason.

Doctor Who Weekly #6

Hooray! We get the chance to win some of those fancy futuristic digital watches that are all the rage.

Not only that but we get a feature about the universe's deadliest potatoes, the Sontarans.

Elsewhere, the Iron Legion are still causing trouble for our hero and, no doubt, the entire planet Earth.

We also get an adaptation of the First Doctor's adventure Marco Polo.

The War of the Worlds adaptation rumbles on and that Cyberman's still investigating the thing humans know as, "Emotion."

Sunday 17 November 2019

The Mighty Isis #7. Feel the Fangs of the Serpent King!

The Mighty Isis #7, Isis in chains as she is menaced by a giant snake summoned by an ancient Egyptian wizard
There was a time, long ago, when you could say you were a big fan of Isis without fearing the CIA were going to monitor all your phone calls from now on.

And that time was the 1970s when the heroine of that name was on our TV screens and in our comics.

She was like Wonder Woman but Egyptian instead of Greek, and obscure instead of iconic.

Granted when I say, "Our," I don't remember her ever being on my TV screen but I did, at least, experience her comic book incarnation, as I had a massive two issues of her mag.

Thinking about it, two issues was quite a lot, as the book only lasted for eight before folding.

Filled with the magic of Ancient Egypt, fully embracing bondage and supported by its own TV show, why did such a book fail? Why?

There's only one way to find out and that's to revisit the earliest of those two issues I possessed.

The Mighty Isis #7, Serpenotep, free at last!
Fresh from having dealt with some threat to humanity, the mighty Isis is floating around the skies, woodland and cities of America, worrying about who she really is and why she keeps being rude to people, when Rick Mason, friend of her alter-ego Andrea Thomas, decides to investigate from where this mysterious heroine came.

So, he goes to the local museum and reads up on her, discovering, via a parchment, that she's probably the reincarnation of a young woman who once helped a benign wizard defeat Serpenotep the evil sorcerer who'd briefly taken over the land of the Nile.

The only problem is that, having worked all that out, Rick decides to totally ignore the parchment's warning to never say out loud a deadly phrase it contains, and the next thing he knows, he's been possessed by Serpenotep who's been lurking inside a nearby model pyramid for a few thousand years.

Admittedly, on the cover, it says one thousand years, meaning he was imprisoned in 977 AD, which suggests a little more research might have been needed from whoever worded the cover.

The Mighty Isis #7, Snake bondage
Suitably liberated, Serpenotep sets out to get his revenge on Isis, for trapping him in the model, and sets about turning innocent people into snakes.

Needless to say, our heroine isn't standing for that kind of nonsense and it's not long before she and her foe are conducting a battle of wits in the museum, one she wins, thanks to her knowing more about vacuums than he knows about plastic.

However, as she departs with Rick, she does so unaware that Serpenotep has control of his body and that Rick's mind is now trapped in the model pyramid.

Well this all sounds fine, so, why did it fail?

I think the fairly obvious answer is it's all far too low-key. Isis spends all her time, between fights, either fretting over her true nature or being haughty with mortals. She's nothing like as bad as the Silver Surfer but, then again, her agonising doesn't have anything like the same emotional content as his did. While he was always wracked with anguish over his psychological crises, she's just sort of a bit mopey about them.

The Mighty Isis #7, shatters her plastic cage
There's also a problem that she seems to have no direct emotional link to her supporting cast of three characters, even though one of them is her mother, another is the man who loves her and the final one is her oldest enemy. They might as well be strangers for all the difference it makes.

On the plus side, her self-questioning and sense of alienation does seek to develop her more as a character than I would have expected from a spin-off of a Saturday morning children's TV show. It just doesn't develop her in a way that's particularly compelling.

In the end, writer Jack C Harris and artists Mike Vosburg and Frank Chiarmonte have given us a competent but workmanlike comic whose protagonist doesn't really engage us. There's nothing actively bad about the tale but there's nothing that makes you particularly want to find out what happens next either.

Ultimately, it all feels a bit depressed. Imagine Marvin the Paranoid Android created a comic. That's sort of what we've got here.

The Mighty Isis #7, people being turned into snakes

Thursday 14 November 2019

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

Just how disastrous can your life get?

This week in 1979, you almost found out.

That's because NORAD, and the Alternate National Military Command Center in Maryland, detected a massive incoming Russian nuclear attack.

Happily, it was all a misunderstanding and we're all still alive to laugh about it.

What else are we all still alive to laugh about?

Penelope Keith!

And Peter Bowles!

That's because, even as we were avoiding nuclear holocaust, the UK gathered around its TV sets to watch the final episode of the first series of that duo's sitcom To the Manor Born. In fact, so popular was it that 23.95 million of us did so, making it the UK's all-time highest viewing figure for a recorded TV show.

Elsewhere, on the singles chart, that week, the roost was suddenly ruled by When You're in Love With a Beautiful Woman by Dr Hook, the song which first made us aware of the full tragedy of those who must date the gorgeous.

Over on the album chart, the top slot was claimed by ABBA's Greatest Hits Vol 2. It seems amazing to think there was a time when the world had never heard of ABBA Gold and had to seek solace in a totally different greatest hits package.

Speaking of hits, what were Marvel UK's smash hit comics up to that week?

Star Wars #90, Darth Vader vs Luke Skywalker

I don't have a clue what this smash hit comic is up to but I do know Darth Vader's in it, because he's on the front of it - and has clearly decapitated most of the main cast, having done it so recently that their heads are still flying through the air from the strike.

I would assume Deathlok, The Guardians of the Galaxy and Tales of the Watcher are also included.

Hulk Comic #37, Machine Man and the Silver Surfer

The Hulk's still on a mission to rescue Trish Starr from Machine Man who doesn't have her.

Finally rid of the origin and uninteresting backstory of Captain Britain, we get the origin and uninteresting backstory of the Black Knight.

Ant-Man's reunited with the Wasp but, thinking him dead, her chauffeur's making moves on her - and we all know who he really is.

We get the origin of the Silver Surfer.

And Egghead's out to steal a mysterious jewel from the Defenders, not grasping that they don't actually have it.

There's been an awful lot of Egghead/Trish Starr action in this book over the last few weeks. I'm starting to wonder if it's all some sort of masterplan by Dez.

Dr Who Weekly #5, Tom Baker and Raleigh bikes

The Iron Legion are still causing trouble.

War of the Worlds is still going on. How appropriate, bearing in mind that, mere days from now, the BBC will start broadcasting its own adaptation of that book.

A Cyberman's out to learn more about human emotion, that he might better be able to defeat us. I think we can all guess where that's all going to lead.

But none of that matters. All that matters is we can win a Raleigh Chopper bike! Why, if the Doctor had a Raleigh Chopper, I bet he'd  never bother with the TARDIS ever again!

Spectacular Spider-Man Weekly #349, the Fly

It's the return of the one foe Spider-Man can never hope to beat. Why? Because he has the powers of a fly and, as we all know, spiders can never hope to defeat flies.

Hold on, I think I'm starting to spot a flaw in the logic behind this match-up.

Tuesday 12 November 2019

The Marvel Lucky Bag - November 1979.

There was a time, back in the 1950s, when if you wanted to hear the latest happening music sounds, you'd head for your nearest cinema to see the thrillingest Rock and Roll stars perform there, live, before your very ears.

As far as I know, those days were long over by 1979 but, in November of that year, you could yet again go to the local cinema if you wanted to encounter music.

That's because that month saw the release of three music-based movies. They were, in no particular order, Quadrophenia, The Rose and Birth of the Beatles.

Admittedly, if you'd gone to see one of those films, you'd have been somewhat disappointed because, despite Quadrophenia being based on a rock opera and having Sting and Toyah in it, it didn't actually contain any songs, which seems an odd way to go about things.

Anyway, despite the fame of all three movies, I have, to this day, still never seen any of them.

You know what else I've never seen?

Any of the comics I'm about to pass judgement upon below.

Marvel Spotlight on Captain Marvel #3, Eon

Apparently, Captain Marvel falls in love with a woman called Elysius and then learns it's his destiny to protect the planet Earth.

I don't have a clue who Elysius is but I would have thought Marvy'd already figured out it's his destiny to protect the planet Earth, as that's what he spends 95% of his time doing.

Plus, he can hardly abandon Rick Jones, can he?

Spider-Woman #20, vs Spider-Man

It's the encounter that had to happen, as Spider-Man finally meets Spider-Woman and they fall in love and get married and produce lots of little spider-babies that proceed to eat them.

No, I admit it, none of that happens.

What actually happens is the male Spidey walks in on the female Spidey, who's seemingly robbing a safe, and decides to bring her to justice, leading to the obligatory fight before it's all cleared up with a chat.

Thor, King-Size Annual #8, Thunder over Troy, Zeus

Thor gets to interfere in the Trojan War, having discovered the Greek gods are interfering in the Trojan War.

This all leads to a punch-up between Thor and Zeus, during which our hero discovers Zeus and Odin have long had a secret pact that their kingdoms will never attack each other.

Why Odin and Zeus would keep that a secret from their subjects, I've no idea.

Marvel Treasury Edition #23, Conan the Barbarian

It's a tale with scene so iconic it made it into the Arnold Schwarzenegger films, as Conan gets crucified but then gets over it with a speed even Wolverine would envy.

There's also a witch involved but I can't recall in what way.

I think a war may also be going on but it's a long time since I read the REH original, so my memories are as vague as they always are when it comes to most Conan stories.

Man-Thing #1

Hooray! It's time to get squelchy again, as the Man-Thing gets his own mag.

From what I can make out, a bunch of criminals decide to restore Ted-Sallis' mind, so he can tell them how to recreate his Super-Soldier formula.

Unfortunately, it all goes wrong when the forces of justice barge in and randomly kill everyone except Thingy who returns to the swamp with the body of the kindly scientist who'd tried to help him regain his lost humanity.

That doesn't exactly sound a barrel of laughs.

Sunday 10 November 2019

Forty years ago today - November 1979.

The first chill of winter is upon us and all those with any sense seek out places of warmth.

But there's nothing warmer than the snug glow of Nostalgia.

So, come, come, let us fling on our Coat of Reverie and see how toasty we can become.

Avengers #189, Hawkeye

That cover definitely has too many blurbs on it.

As for the inside of the book, as far as I can recall, there's a robot living under the Avengers Mansion and it's controlled by a computer with the mind of Tony Stark's mother.

Does it ever occur to the Avengers that things like this don't happen to normal people?

But I am intrigued. Just what are the strange new problems that plague the Scarlet Witch and the Vision?

Conan the Barbarian #104, Vale of Lost Women

There's a girl. There's a monster. The monster's going to eat the girl. Conan kills it and the girl's very grateful.

I think that sums it up.

Captain America #239

It's more of that baffling story in which Cap attacks a citadel up a mountain, and everything gets a bit strange.

Daredevil #161, Bullseye

Bullseye's kidnapped the Black Widow, in an attempt to lure Daredevil into his trap.

He does lure Daredevil into his trap.

Daredevil and the Black Widow then set about beating him up.

I don't think he'd thought this plan through properly.

Fantastic Four #212, Galactus v the Sphinx

Reed Richards' brilliant masterplan of having Galactus and the Sphinx battle each other, to decide who gets to destroy the Earth, kicks up a gear as both villains prepare for the mightiest clash since Logan Paul met KSI.

Meanwhile, the FF are dying of old age, so they might not live to see who's going to get to destroy them anyway.

Spectacular Spider-Man #36, Swarm

That Spidey pose is definitely based on one from an old Steve Ditko cover, isn't it?

More importantly, one of those reckless scientists ESU employs by the dozen accidentally brings Swarm back to life, meaning the Nazi bees are on the loose once more.

Thor #289, the Destroyer

Thor wants to know why Odin's done a secret deal with the Celestials

Odin doesn't want Thor to know.

Nor does he want him to set foot on Asgard ever again.

That means our hero has to take on a whole pile of Norse gods and the Destroyer as well.

Uncanny X-Men #127, Storm v Proteus

The X-Men are still making a total Horlicks of fighting Proteus in Scotland.

Incredible Hulk #241, half Bruce Banner, half Hulk

The Hulk's still in El Dorado, and Des has revealed himself to be Tyrannus!

When I say Des, I, of course, am not referring to Dez Skinn who, as far as I know, has never ruled an underground kingdom, although he may, for all I know, have an interest in underground comics.

But it does raise the question of how Tyrannus settled on, "Des," as a pseudonym.

Unless his real name actually is Des?

Iron Man #128, Demon in a Bottle, Tony Stark - alcoholic

Tony Stark suddenly realises he's an alcoholic and that he'd better do something about it.

Amazing Spider-Man #198, Mysterio

Spidey's finally figured out who the manager of Aunt May's nursing home is and is determined to give him the smack in the fishbowl he deserves.

Thursday 7 November 2019

November 7th, 1979 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

It's two days after Guy Fawkes' Night and that can only mean one thing.

That it's time for me to grab a jungle vine, launch myself from a tree and swing through the forest, yelling, "Ahoohoohoohoohahahahaahaaaahhahh!"

That's right, it's what I do every November the Seventh.

And how lucky I was, therefore, that on this date, forty years ago, I wasn't the only one doing so, because, that evening, BBC One was giving us the Tarzan cartoon that always seemed to be on TV in my younger days. Apparently, in this exciting episode, Ekima is mistaken for a monkey god.

I've no idea who Ekima is but I assume he's a monkey. It's going to be a bit strange if he's mistaken for a monkey god and he's an elephant.

Speaking of elephants, in this week of that year, Fleetwood Mac's Tusk rose two places to claim the Number One slot on the UK album chart, which isn't bad for an LP that's often spoken of as a monumental misfire.

Star Wars Weekly #89

It would seem our heroes are still having trouble with the Tagge family.

Other than this and the knowledge that that's a very striking colour for a dress, I know little of this tale.

I do know, however, that even though the cover blurb announces the presence of The Guardians of the Galaxy and Tales of the Watcher, the real big news is that this issue contains the origin of Deathlok.

I could claim to be excited about that but, as I've lamented in the past, I always found it impossible to get into his strip.

Meanwhile, the Guardians are still battling the Reavers of Arcturus and the Watcher's telling us the terrible tale of a bunch of space explorers who find themselves on a planet surrounded by a deadly mist.

The title of that tale is The Forbidden Planet.

I wonder where Stan got that title from?

Hulk Comic #36, Machine Man

The Hulk and Machine Man finally collide, as the former seeks to rescue Trish Starr from the latter, even though the latter doesn't have her.

Speaking of Trish, in his strip, Ant-Man, still stuck at insect size, finally manages to rescue her from Egghead, despite spending a chunk of the story trapped in the back of the villain's van.

You have to hand it to Ant-Man, there aren't many super-heroes of whom you can announce that they're, "Trapped in the back of a van."

Elsewhere, we're still getting our very very very prolonged potted history of Captain Britain's career so far.

Meanwhile, the Eternals have vanished, without trace, from the book, to be replaced by the Defenders who find themselves battling Solarr and the Rhino.

Nick Fury's still out to clear his name, with all of SHIELD against him.

Rampage Magazine #17, the Hulk

I'm not sure what's happening in the Hulk tale but I suspect terrorism may be involved.

Clearly, the New X-Men are up against the Sentinels, which means we must be approaching issue #100 of the original US mag.

And Dr Strange is up against Lectra, a villain I have no recollection of. I suspect she's not a female version of Electro.

Doctor Who Weekly #4, Tom Baker, attack of the yeti, free transfers

Yet more of the Iron Legion. Yet more of War of the Worlds. Yet more of The Dead Planet. Yet more of the Daleks.

But, this time, we also get a feature on the Yetis, those robot menaces who once took over the London Underground, with their guns that fire cobwebs.

No, I can't see any logic in having yetis in the London Underground and having them carry guns, let alone ones which fire cobwebs. But who cares? That story was great and that's all that matters.

Marvel Superheroes #355, the Avengers vs ants

Ant-Man may have trouble getting out of the back of vans but he has no such difficulty taking on the entire might of the Avengers.

Come to think of it, this may be the Scott Lang version but I'm not certain.

I think this all ties in with Ultron trying to create a bride for himself, though memory lets me down when it comes to knowing just how it all ties in.

But who is the X-Men author who speaks out? Is it Chris Claremont? If so, why's he speaking out in Marvel Superheroes, rather than Rampage which is the mag that reprints Claremont's X-Men tales?

Then again, maybe it's Rascally Roy who's speaking out.

Maybe it's Stan.

Who can say?

Not me.

Marvel UK Savage Sword of Conan #25

Conan's having problems beyond the Black River, which, I believe, is a Robert E Howard tale.

I think this may be one of the ones that goes a bit Davy Crockett about things, which always felt a little strange in a Conan tale.

Red Sonja's still up against Balek and I still keep misreading it as, "Dalek."

Starburst Magazine #15, Quatermass

Hooray! We get coverage of Quatermass, Doctor Who, The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy and more, more, more.

We also get news of something called Gandahar, a thing I can't say I've ever heard of. It would appear to be a French cartoon about a bunch of people fighting a bunch of metal men.

It also would appear that an English language version is available, starring Glenn Close.

Spectacular Spider-Man Weekly #348, chained to J J Jonah Jameson, Professor Smythe

The dying Spence Smythe's decided to get his revenge on Spider-Man and JJ by chaining them to a bomb that's set to go off in twenty four hours from now.

No, I don't know why he's set it to go off in twenty four hours, instead of just blowing them up straight away.

And that's why I'll never be an evil genius.

Tuesday 5 November 2019

The Marvel Lucky Bag - November 1969.

Do you recall what you were doing on this night of fifty years ago?

I do. I was looking at fireworks.

Admittedly, when I say, "Recall," I don't recall it at all but it was Guy Fawkes' Night, so it's a safe bet that's what I was doing.

And now here I am, fifty years later, on another Guy Fawkes' Night, not looking at fireworks but, instead, typing this deathless prose.

That's how important this deathless prose is.

That's why this deathless prose will never die.

What did die, fifty years ago this month, was any hope of dramatic change at the top of the British music charts.

That's because, despite a strong challenge by Fleetwood Mac's Oh Well, the Archies' Sugar Sugar spent the whole of November at Number One on the singles listings. Meanwhile, the top of the LP chart in that period was completely hogged by the Beatles' Abbey Road.

But what of the less popular Marvel titles which bore that month as their cover date? Could they provide us with the sense of change the twin Hit Parades so sorely lacked?

Captain Marvel #18, the Mandroid

Captain Marvel's great change happened last issue, of course, with the introduction of Rick Jones into the strip but there's still evolution this time round because here's where we first meet Mordecai P Boggs, and a legendary music career's born.

Even more thrillingly, the good captain rescues Carol Danvers from Yon-Rogg, by defeating his Mandroid who has no connection to the Mandroids who gave the Avengers so many problems during Neal Adams' brief stint on their strip.

Yon-Rogg may or may not die in this issue. I cannot say for sure, one way or the other.

Dr Strange #183, the Undying Ones

Change is also in the air for Strange, as, for no reason I can recollect, the supernatural surgeon's now using the name, "Stephen Sanders."

Thus, Dr Sanders (thank God he isn't a colonel) is summoned to the house of an old friend who's being controlled by three servants of the Undying Ones.

Can our hero stop them and can he rescue his friend before it's too late?

Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD #15

Thanks to Hydra, Nick Fury finds himself hunted by Bulls-Eye.

But not that Bullseye.

Which is a bit odd as, given his obvious similarities to that other villain, I see no reason to not retcon him has having been the same character.

Silver Surfer #10

Still moaning about how terrible people are, the Silver Surfer decides to blunder around in one of those war-torn Latin American countries the Marvel version of our planet is rife with...

...only to have Shalla-Bal show up, just as he's kissing a local peasant girl!

Argh! Talk about terrible timing.

Amazing Spider-Man Annual #6, the Sinister Six

It's the most important comic ever published because it's the first Marvel mag I ever owned, bought from the Rag and Tag market in Sheffield, a place which, in photos, looks like shoppers were lucky to leave there without having contracted the Black Death.

But who cares about the Black Death? With this one comic, I was introduced to Spider-Man and six of Marvel's greatest villains, not to mention the Fantastic Four, Dr Strange, the X-Men, Giant-Man, the Wasp, Thor, Iron man and God knows who else, as we get a book that's pretty much a straight reprint of the very first Spider-Man annual.

Sub-Mariner #19, Stingray

The Sting-Ray makes his senses-tingling debut, as Subby discovers he can no longer fly nor breathe underwater, leading to an epic battle in the sewers and an attempt to prevent the Brooklyn Bridge collapsing.

Homer the Happy Ghost #1

Well and truly freed from its former limited distribution, Marvel takes full advantage, by unleashing Homer the Happy Ghost upon us, who, I'm sure, bears no resemblance at all to Casper the Friendly Ghost.

I can shed no light upon the contents of this comic, as I'd never even heard of Homer before now but I do know this issue's strips all seem to be drawn by Dan deCarlo and written by Stan Lee.

Peter the Little Pest #1

Not only do we get one new book this month, we get two!

I'm going to make a guess that this one bears a remarkable resemblance to the American Dennis the Menace strip.

All tales in this issue are drawn by Joe Maneely, suggesting that they, like the Homer tales, are Golden Age reprints.