Thursday, 5 December 2019

December 5th, 1979 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

Have you ever felt like you don't need no education?

I know I have.

And that's why the seven days leading up to this date in 1979 were such important ones for me because that's when Pink Floyd's album The Wall was released.

But, of course, we'd already had a taste of it, thanks to the single Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2 having been released in advance and, this very week, it was at Number Two on the UK singles chart, being temporarily held off the top spot by the Police's Walking on the Moon. Perhaps Sting and friends should have called it Walking on the Dark Side of the Moon and then they might have been able to hold the Floyd off permanently.

Speaking of albums, over on the LP chart, the top spot this week was snatched by Rod Stewart who dislodged ABBA's Greatest Hits Vol2, thanks to his own Greatest Hits package.

But it wasn't all good news when it came to the music business because this was also the week in which eleven fans were killed during a crush before The Who's concert at the Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati.

Rampage Monthly #18, the Hulk

All I know of this month's Hulk tale is Bruce Banner goes off to Switzerland, hoping a local scientist can help him with his problem.

I've no doubt at all that that man won't be able to help him with his problem. In fact, I've no doubt he'll simply make it worse.

But I do know we've got a reprint of issue #100 of The X-Men, the one in which the original team fight the new team - until it turns out it's not the original team. It's just a bunch of robots!

In the Dr Strange tale, Clea's being held hostage by Lectra who's using her as leverage to get Strangey to help her find her own mad sister Phaydra.

Star Wars Weekly #93. Luke Skywalker vs Darth Vader

BaronTagge and his sister are in this issue, so it would appear Darth Vader's not bumped them off yet.

The Guardians of the Galaxy are still battling the Reavers of Arcturus, Deathlok's up against the War-Wolf who would appear to be another cyborg, and The Watcher tells us of a man who decides to take a Martian beauty serum which, I think, makes him look like a Martian.

But easily most significantly, this is the issue in which the mystery of Star-Hawk's identity's finally resolved.

I wish I could remember what that resolution is.

Having said that, isn't the whole point of Star-Hawk that he's a mystery? If his mystery's resolved, doesn't he lose all interest, from the reader's point of view?

Hulk Comic #40, the Cobalt Man

The Hulk and Machine Man finally stop fighting each other, for long enough to deal with their true enemy. Who that is, I can't remember but I'm pretty sure he has something to do with The Corporation.

Ant-Man and the Wasp are still stuck at the size of bugs and have now been kidnapped by a robot who wants to give himself the powers of insects.

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

And, finally, the Defenders finish off their battle with the Cobalt Man who polishes off Egghead for them.

Starburst #16, the Black Hole

The UK's top sci-fi mag takes a look at The Black Hole, a film I've still, to this day, never seen, even though it's on TV every Christmas. One of these days, I'll have to get round to watching it.

More importantly to me, this issue, Nigel Kneale speaks out. About what, I don't know but I am sure it'll involve everyone's favourite alien-thwarting rocket scientist.

And probably Doctor Who. I've never seen a Nigel Kneale print interview in which the subject of Doctor Who doesn't turn up.

Marvel Superheroes #356, Ultron

What's this? The Avengers vs Ultron? Dr Doom vs the Sub-Mariner, and the X-Men vs Computo? What more could anyone demand of a comic?

I suppose I could demand it tells me who Computo is, as I've never heard of him/her/it. Regardless, I'm sure Computo's a major threat to humanity.

More urgently, Ultron's happily building a wife for himself - and Hank Pym's helping him!

Doctor Who Weekly #8, Tom Baker

The Doctor's still having trouble with the Iron Legion, we get a text story based on the William Hartnell adventure The Aztecs, more from War of the Worlds, a feature about the Peter Cushing Dalek movies, and something called The Final Quest which seems to be a tale involving the Sontarans.

Savage Sword of Conan #26, sabre toothed tiger

Our hero's concluding his tale Beyond the Black River. Beyond that, I can say nothing of this issue other than that it's drawn by John Buscema and Tony DeZuniga.

Spectacular Spider-Man Weekly #352, the death of Aunt May

In the wake of Aunt May's, "death," Peter Parker's at her nursing home and failing to spot who the nursing home manager is, despite him being one of his oldest foes.

We also get Daredevil, Godzilla, the Fantastic Four, Thor and Iron Man in this issue, although I can shed no light on what they're up to.


Redartz said...

Wow, First commenter on one of Steve's posts! My day is complete...

So much good music out at the tail end of 1979. But again, your UK charts were more appealing than our US Billboard chart. Thank goodness for college record stores with good import sections!

Striking cover on that Spiderman issue. The original was in blue tones, this red /magenta approach is sharp...

Anonymous said...

Ah, the festive sound of Another Brick in the Wall pt 2, a seasonal Xmas no. 1 to see out the 70s...
The journalistic cliche is that punk - and I suppose disco - was something of a revolution that changed popular music, but that obviously wasn't the case, Steve. Not only were Pink Floyd huge at the end of '79, but it seems so were Rod Stewart and Abba.
And while the Police were something new, they weren't exactly the Clash, let alone Throbbing Gristle.

I understand Nigel Kneale didn't care much for Dr Who... Fair enough really. Whatever Who's merits (or lack of them) you can see why a screenwriter who did innovative stuff like Quatermass, 1984, and the Year of the Sex Olympics might be irked by regular association with his work.


Anonymous said...

PS A quick shout for the Starburst cover copy, as I like the claim that TV made a monkey out of the Planet of the Apes films.
Why were they going on about it at the end of '79 though?


Steve W. said...

Well done, Red. I do feel that 1979-1981 was the peak year for British music but that might just be a reflection of my age.

Sean, I suspect they were talking about Planet of the Apes in 1979 because they had a load of pages to fill every month and there weren't enough new sci-fi shows on TV to fill those pages.

I vaguely remember that Nigel Kneale's objection to Doctor Who was that he thought it was wrong to scare children and that he reckoned the show was always stealing his ideas. Clearly, he must have tuned in during the Jon Pertwee era.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

You guys liked the Hulk, huh? That’s cool. Just surprised how relatively popular he was in the UK?

Is the Nigel Kneale you reference the one from “Making Plans for Nigel” by XTC? I mean, this all came out in latter half of 1979 so… just wondering. Or purely coincidental, like your non-alpha display of book titles?

Harpo looks much younger... more vibrant... as a brunette with a fedora.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

B.t.w. Steve - do you have a definitive decision on pronouncing Trigan as in Trigan Empire from Look and Learn?

I'm having a hard time sleeping with that running through my head.

I used to have that trouble when I was around 7 or 8 with Sub Mariner as in being pronounced like the word submarine or is the "i" a short "i". Once that cleared up I was good for several decades of sound sleep.

Steve W. said...

Charlie, the Hulk had his own TV show and Marvel UK clearly felt they should capitalise on it at every opportunity.

Nigel Kneale was a legendary TV writer. He created and wrote a bunch of acclaimed sci-fi/horror shows and dramas, including the Quatermass serials, The Stone Tape and The Year of the Sex Olympics which are all worth a watch. He also wrote the first TV adaptation of 1984 and the scripts for the Ray Harryhausen version of The First Men in the Moon and Hammer's The Witches.

He was asked to write for both Doctor Who and The X-Files but turned them down. He wrote the script for Halloween III but had his name removed from the credits when the studio insisted on inserting more gore and violence into it.

Steve W. said...

Sadly, Charlie, I still have no clear answer as to how, "Trigan," is pronounced. I suspect it's, "Try-Gan," but must confess it could be any one of a number of pronunciations.

Killdumpster said...

Ha ha! Throbbing Gristle!! Lol!!!

On the comics front, Hank Pym would have saved himself from a lot of problems if he just stayed away from robots.

He had enough trouble with his shrinking/growing pills/gasses. If there's one hero that's actually his worst enemy, it's him.

Maybe that's why he was one of my favorites. Lol.

During a sorting of my DVD collection I realized I had all 3 of the Hammer Quartermass features.

I watched them in order, and though I had seen Quartermass And The Pit a number of times as a kid, I appreciate it more now.

Killdumpster said...

Here's a question for you guys. In the issues of Avengers I had, I don't think I ever saw Clint Barton shrink to normal size. Was he size-trapped as Goliath, like Hank was?

Speaking of Hammer films, I also found that I had all their mummy films. Of course the 1st with Chris Lee is the best, Mummy's Shroud & Curse Of The Mummy's Tomb are highly enjoyable.

Blood From The Mummy's Tomb not so much. Though I guess it was based on a Bram Stoker story, a bandaged monster shambling & killing would have been a plus.

Floyd's Wall came out when I worked at the record store. We couldn't keep it in stock. Dark Side of the Moon re-entered Billboard's top 100 soon after.

Watching Hammer's X The Unknown right now, first time for me.

Killdumpster said...

Wow. I truly believe that the British were the first to make a film featuring a liquid, shapeless "blob-monster".

X The Unknown pre-dates The Blob starring Steve McQueen, Mario Bava's Caltiki The Immortal Monster & Toho's H-Man. I'm surprised Hammer didn't sue those motion picture companies.

TC said...

Clint Barton, IIUC, was not trapped at giant-size (as Hank Pym had been in the mid-1960s), although, offhand, I don't recall ever seeing him at normal size during his Goliath phase. Clint had to take doses of Pym's formula on a regular basis to remain a giant. I think it was during the Kree-Skrull War serial that he forgot to take a dose, and so he shrank to normal size in the middle of a battle and had to be rescued by Thor. After that, he tossed the growth serum and went back to being Hawkeye the 6'3" archer.

Fun fact: Hammer wanted to use Dr. Quatermass as the protagonist in X the Unknown, but Nigel Kneale (who, presumably, owned the trademark) would not allow it.

Killdumpster said...

Thanks, TC, oh my brother, for the info & trivia.

Killdumpster said...

From what I read, X & the Quartermass films basically put Hammer on the sci-fi/horror map.

Killdumpster said...

All the Quartermass films were released in America under different titles.
The name Quartermass was virtually Unknown over here.

It would be wonderful if ,since Hammer is more or less in production again, they'd remake updated versions of Quartermass.

There's a making of a franchise there.

Killdumpster said...

They would be a lot better than the psycho-killer/vampire/ghost stories they've been putting out.

Killdumpster said...

I could see Anthony Hopkins as Quartermass. Whoever would play the lead would Definetly have to be a powerful older actor, American or British.

Of course, in this day & age, he'd have to have a youthful group of "Scooby-Doo kids" as interns/assistants.

Hah!! Quartermass facing alien invasion with Taylor Swift & Justin Beiber!!! Lmao!!!!

Killdumpster said...

Now that I think about it, if they started a Quartermass series with pop-stars co-starring, they could continue the theme if it was successful.

Unlike in a Stars Wars film, where it was leaked that Lucas was going to have N-Sync be a team of Jedi. Lol.

It would be great to see Justin or Taylor being destroyed/eaten by some alien force/creature.

Killdumpster said...

Hah! Lady Gaga getting a Sigourney Weaver on with a laser rifle! Lol!!

Ok, I'm done.

Anonymous said...

The Black Hole was a pretty funky movie (not to mention totally scientifically inaccurate) but it does have this extremely creepy scene at the end where the villain gets merged with his killer robot in what is apparently Hell.
Brrr. That scene gave me the willies when I was a kid.
Actually there are several somewhat disturbing scenes, which was weird to see in a Disney movie at the time.


Anonymous said...

Yes Steve, its not hard to see how the early 70s Dr Who could be seen as a bit of a riff on Quatermass.
I recall reading somewhere that it was also accused of turning the show into something of a kids version of the Avengers, and you can see definite parallels there too (eg Pertwee's Doctor being not unlike Steed, right down to his taste in vintage cars).
Mind you, the boffin dealing with bureaucrats, and the anachronistic "gentleman-adventurer" were pretty standard archetypes in British culture at the time...


Killdumpster said...

Yeah, then it was in vogue to have adventurers with suave style. Bond has been able to keep a portion of that over the years.

Killdumpster said...

Nowadays it's mostly all guns-a-blazin',Matrix-esque acrobatic anti-heroes. Very little "style".

Killdumpster said...

Now I'm curious as to who everybodies' favorite non-superpowered action heroes/ actors are.

I'm sure there are a few differences between each side-of-the-pond.

Anonymous said...

Steve, you mentioned Starhawk and the Guardians.
Starhawk's origin was extremely confusing and convoluted, with the result that you had, essentially, two different people who hadda take turns existing, like Billy Batson and the original Captain Marvel.
It was Marvel Presents over here, and it was a weird little comic. It was Gerber, right? I think he was doing science fiction to make broad observations about human nature, which, now that I think about it, is what most science fiction actually is. Human nature, whether it's Who Goes There or pod people or an alien running amuck in a space ship.
He was kinda all over the place, but I dug it. There was one issue where the Guardians land on this planet where everybody is a different kind of alien. And apart from that, it's exactly like New York City circa the early '70's. Turns out, they're all inmates of an intergalactic insane asylum who were free to set up their own society with it's own rules. And it just happened to turn out like NYC. Whoa. Like an old star Trek episode with the irony and such.
I dunno what Gerber was goin' for with Starhawk, though. I think that one got away from him.


Anonymous said...

Well, I tend to think quite a few of Gerber's ideas got away from him M.P. (not really his fault - he was obviously the best writer they had at Marvel in the 70s, but the editorial standards of the time and the amount of stuff he had to churn out in the newstand era worked against him).
Starhawk was one of his better ones though - being male and female the character was political correctness gone mad that you'd think would be ideal for a revival now; its odd the SJWs at Marvel haven't put him/her in one of their films yet.


Steve W. said...

KD, other than Ellen Ripley and Sarah Connor, I'm not sure I have any favourite action heroes who don't have super-powers.

MP, I once did a review of that Guardians of the Galaxy "New York" adventure, which can be found right here:

Sean, I have confidence that Starhawk will turn up in a Marvel movie at some point, mostly because I suspect every Marvel character will turn up in a movie at some point.

TC, thanks for the X The Unknown info. Its debt to the adventures of Quatermass is indeed huge.