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Thursday, 31 December 2020

December 31st, 1980 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

Thanks to Charlie Horse 47 and Killdumpster for their sponsorship of this post, via the magic of Patreon
 ***

The truth is out there and, this week in 1980, it was out in Suffolk, as that area experienced the dread event known as the Rendlesham Forest Incident when the sighting of unexplained lights near RAF Woodbridge led to the most celebrated UFO occurrence in Britain.

But not everyone was looking to the skies that week. Some of us were looking to our TVs.

That's because this night of that year was, quite predictably, New Year's Eve, and music lovers were celebrating the junction of 1980 and '81 by watching The Old Grey Whistle Test on BBC Two.

The show, oft-touted as Top of the Pops for grown-ups, flung us into the new year, with a package of highlights from its most recent series.

Among acts featured were the Specials, Cozy Powell, Toyah, ZZ Top, the Selecter, Brand X, the Damned, the Roches, PIL, John Cooper Clarke, April Wine, the Skids, Yellow Magic Orchestra and the Talking Heads, all introduced by Anne Nightingale who, 40 years later, appears to still be working for BBC youth station Radio 1, despite now being 80.

I have some dim memory that Anne was present for at least part of the recording of Abbey Road and how appropriate, then, that, over on BBC One, that channel was showing the movie known to the world as Birth of the Beatles, a film I think I've still never seen.

Perhaps its greatest claim to greatness is that it starred John Altman as George Harrison.

Altman, of course, went on to greater notoriety as living nightmare Nasty Nick Cotton in the BBC's endless drearython Eastenders.

Spider-Man and Hulk Weekly #408, Man-Thing vs She-Hulk


It's Innuendo Central, as She-Hulk tackles the Man-Thing. I assume this means she's still hanging around La Hacienda and teaching the people who live there a thing or two.

Elsewhere, we're told, the Hulk's up against Doc Samson, so I shall assume we're still in the Woodgod storyline that's left Hulkie-Baby feeling friendless.

Forces in Combat #34, King Kull

Clutch your swords tightly because Kull's up against some sort of giant iguana.

That is all I can reveal about this issue.

It is, however, a purple iguana and, as we all know, they're the most dangerous kind.


Valour #9, Dr Strange

Kull thinks he's got problems? He doesn't know he's born, because Conan's still battling a tribe of vampires.

Not quite so anciently, King Arthur's banned his mystery guest from his castle but the bounder's taken off with Guinevere, so the king and Merlin set off to bring her back.

But, to do that, they'll have to get past a huge dragon.

Devil Dinosaur gets the better of the giant in the triceratops hat who's been beating up dinosaurs, but Moon-Boy convinces the titular T-Rex to let the giant live, in a climax that makes no sense at all.

Dr Strange, meanwhile, is in another dimension and trying to rescue Wong from that realm's very own sorcerer supreme.


Marvel Team-Up #16, Spider-Man and Ms Marvel

Spider-Man and Ms Marvel unite to confront the stabby menace of Dr Strange's old nemesis Silver Dagger.

This is all I know of this issue.


Future Tense #9, Micronauts

The Enterprise makes its first contact with the vast but enigmatic space object that's been causing nothing but consternation wherever it goes.

The Micronauts scrape the bottom of the Adventure Barrel when they take on a lorry driver and a petty thief.

In other news, an Earth astronaut continues his John Carter style adventuring on an alien world, only to discover it was all a dream.

Or was it?

Poor old Adam Warlock, meanwhile, has disappeared without trace, with the book now streamlining itself down to just three strips.

Just three strips in one weekly comic? It's like a return to Marvel UK's glory days.

Sunday, 27 December 2020

Our Army at War #255, featuring Sgt. Rock.

Thanks to Charlie Horse 47 and Killdumpster for their sponsorship of this post, via the magic of Patreon.
***

Our Army at War #255, featuring Sgt. Rock
War is hell.

And so is reading war comics.

I admit it, it's a genre that's always held little interest for me, but the public's demanded I review a product of that field and, so, I must.

I could cheat and do an issue of Weird War Tales, which was the only war book I ever liked, as a child, mostly because I saw it as being a horror mag.

However, I've already reviewed the odd issue of that title, so I feel I should dive in and do what can only be termed a pure war-publication.

For that purpose, I've chosen a Sgt. Rock issue, mostly because XTC said Sgt Rock was going to help me and also because this one has one of those covers where the hero's about to walk straight into a whole heap of deadly menace while thinking everything's fine.

Where would the average war comic be without such a cover concept?

But, then again, is this an average war comic?

Here's where I find out.

The book kicks off with the tale What's It Like? in which Robert Kanigher and Russ Heath spin a yarn wherein a desk-bound sergeant, whose job is to give Rock his latest missions, repeatedly bemoans to the Rockster about how unfair it is that he's stuck in an office while Rock and his gang are out having fun fighting the war.

In fairness, it's easy to see why that sergeant thinks this, as he keeps handing Rock assignments that, on paper, look a doddle, like pulling a jeep out of a river, making road signs point the wrong way, or finding the general's lost dog.

Our Army at War #255, Sgt Rock
However, such is Rock's monumental bad luck that, every time he tries to perform one of these tasks, he blunders into a mountain of enemy hostility which leaves half his men dead and he himself lucky to still be alive.

For some reason, it never occurs to Rock to point this out to his fellow sergeant and disabuse him of his misconceptions.

Indeed, Rock is a strangely taciturn character in those meetings and not at all like the hyper-emotional weirdo I first encountered in the pages of his Brave and the Bold team-up with Batman. Up until now, that team-up has been my only exposure to the character and may have given me completely the wrong impression.

Our Army at War #255, Sgt Rock
As someone whose nearest reference point to the adventures of Rock is having read the exploits of Nick Fury and his Howlin' Commandos, I find it a startlingly sombre and bleak outing in which everyone but Rock is basically cannon fodder and even the simplest of duties turns into a rolling meat-mincer.

To be honest, although I wouldn't want to spend a lifetime reading such stories, I do much prefer it to the adventures of Fury in which going into battle-zones, while armed only with an umbrella, a mouth full of slang, and a trumpet, is the route to a bucketload of fun.

Our Army at War #255, Red Rain
But there's not just one tale in this book. This being an early 1970s DC title, there's also a back-up strip.

This one - Red Rain - is supplied by Kanigher and the redoubtable ER Cruz and is like something straight out of Weird War Talesin which a 1917 troop of soldiers keep being rescued by a mysterious Frenchman who turns out to be a statue. I have a feeling Stan Ridgway probably read a fair few DC comics before he wrote Camouflage.

Again, it's a sombre and downbeat tale and a total contrast to Nick Fury's rompings.

So, did I survive my encounter with war?

Yes, I did.

In truth, it was a painless read, although, with both tales' lack of character development, and a reliance on nothing but a central concept to carry them forward, I can't say I feel any urge to read any more such issues.

I am, however, curious to discover whether the depiction of Rock here is typical.
Our Army at War #255, Sgt Rock

Thursday, 24 December 2020

December 24th, 1980 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

Thanks to Charlie Horse 47 and Killdumpster for their sponsorship of this post, via the magic of Patreon
 ***

There's no one quite like Grandma.

I know that because a nightmarish gang of children waylaid me and told me so.

Then they kept on telling me, over and over again, for three nightmarish minutes until I could never hope to forget.

When did they tell me this?

1980.

That's right, it was forty years ago this week that St Winifred's School Choir secured the coveted UK Christmas Number One, by seeing-off various John Lennon songs, with their paean to grandmothers everywhere.

Clearly, music lovers were going to have to take refuge in the UK album chart instead.

Over there, things were far safer, as ABBA's Super Trouper retained the top spot it had been hogging for months; again, doing so by seeing off the challenge of John Lennon.

ITV, meanwhile, was in the process of seeing-off the challenge of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer whose animated special they aired for the final time until its return to their shores in 2020. Forty years without showing a Christmas classic? Are these people barbarians?

But, hold on a minute. What's that I said? "Christmas?" But doesn't that mean there must be annuals?

Spider-Man Annual 1981, the Green Goblin


All I know about this one is it costs £1.95 and has Spider-Man in it.

I'm assuming, from the cover, the Green Goblin's also there.

And, looking at that cover, I wonder if it's the Harry Osborn drug story in which Gobby deprives our hero of his power to cling to walls?


Empire Strikes Back Annual 1981, Darth Vader

I do believe this one reprints Marvel's adaptation of the movie. Which will, I'm sure, be a Christmas morning thrill for anyone who's not already encountered it in the regular mag.


Fantastic Four Annual 1981

The Fantastic Four haven't been able to carry a Marvel UK mag in years but, every Yuletide, they still get their own annual.

This time, they give us a reprint of the team's first-ever meeting with the X-Men - the one in which the Puppet Master and Mad Thinker team-up to perplex both teams and trick them into fighting each other.

It also features the FF vs Madrox the Multiple Man, from back in the days when Medusa was a member.

As if that wasn't enough, we also get a text story that involves the FF venturing into space to carry out a rescue mission of someone or other.

Perhaps most intriguingly, the book features an inner-cover splash page of the Avengers facing up to a decidedly Cosmic-looking Red Skull, as drawn by Gene Colan, which is an image I've never seen before and am hard-pressed to guess for which occasion it would have been created.

Marvel Superheroes Annual 1981

In this one, we're given the X-Men's very earliest appearance, the one in which they have to thwart Magneto's attempts to lay hands on America's nuclear missiles.

Ms Marvel teams-up with the Vision to prevent radioactive cargo from doing radioactive-cargo-type stuff, though why people in the Marvel universe fear radiation, when all it ever seems to do is give them super-powers, I've no idea.

We also get that story in which the statue of the Black Knight, from the Defenders, shows up at the Avengers Mansion and starts fighting the residents. Exactly why it does that, I can't recall.

Hulk Annual 1981

The Hulk may have to share his weekly book with Spider-Man but that doesn't stop him getting his own annual.

Sadly, from that cover, it clear it's the adventures of the TV incarnation we're being treated to, rather than his comic book equivalent.




Spider-Man and Hulk Weekly #407, Daredevil and Electro

It's the big one. Electro, a man who's never managed to beat either Spider-Man or Daredevil, decides it's a great idea to try and fight them both at once.

I think I can see a flaw in his thinking

Having said that, this time, he does have Blizzard on his side...

As if that weren't enough on the webster's plate; in solo action, he's having trouble with Belladonna's attempt to gas him and the new Prowler to death.



Forces in Combat #33, ROM

It looks like ROM's still battling the nightmare menace of Serpentyne.

And, if the cover's to be believed, someone else has to endure the horror of the thing on the roof.

At this time of year, it's probably Rudolph. You don't mess with Rudolph.

This is the second mention of Rudolph in this post. You can tell it's that time of the year again.


Future Tense #8, Star Trek

The crew of the Enterprise are having their first encounter with the big thing in space that used to be a Voyager probe. You guessed it; Marvel's adaptation of the slow-motion picture is rolling right along.

The Micronauts are still battling to prevent Plantman from taking over a flower shop.

Seriously.

There's a strange strip about an astronaut who finds himself on a John Carter type world where no one seems to have a warm welcome for him.

To wrap it all up, Adam Warlock's finally remembered who he is and decides to teach Rhodan the super-rat a valuable lesson.

Valour #8, Devil Dinosaur

There's a giant, in a triceratops hat, blundering around the prehistoric realm, looking for dinosaurs to chin. 

Obviously, this is a job for Devil Dinosaur.

In a slightly later epoch, Conan's still trying to defeat a nearby tribe of vampires.

In a much more modern epoch, Dr Strange is on an even stranger world and finally reunited with Clea. But will either of them live long enough to celebrate?

King Arthur finally sees through the mystery knight who's staying in his castle, and orders him to leave. However, the knight responds by kidnapping Guinevere.

I'm very proud of myself that I managed to spell Guinevere right without having to Google it.

And, last but not least, this week's tale of Asgard sees Heimdall in sensational solo action, as he manages to fail to spot a fairy sneaking into the mystical realm. Will Odin forgive him?

Team-Up #15, Ant-Man, Marvel UK

Judging by all the strips it contains, this is a packed comic.

But what it's packed with, I couldn't say, other than it seems Ant-Man's now also being crammed into its pages. Just how many super-heroes can you fit into one book? It looks like we're about to find out.

Anyway, as mentioned earlier, it's a certain magical time of year, and a certain magical night, that makes me want to put on those Slade and Wizzard classics and sing along with them until I'm dizzy.

So, I shall wish you a merry Christmas or whatever festival or holiday it is that you do or don't celebrate, and I hope that, whatever it is, you have a good one.

Sunday, 20 December 2020

2000 AD - November 1982.

Thanks to Charlie Horse 47 and Killdumpster for their sponsorship of this post, via the magic of Patreon
***

As we all know, there is, in all human existence, no experience more thrilling than reading this blog. Why, even as the man writing it, I often have to take a bucketful of sedatives to get through it.

But, in November 1982, the world was smashed in the face by something almost as thrilling.

And that was an album called Thriller.

Thanks to a string of hit singles, Michael Jackson's LP went on to become the biggest-selling album of all time and, as of the present, has sold over 110 million units, globally.

Speaking of globally, that month was a lively time for leaders around the world.

In the USSR, former KGB head Yuri Andropov was selected to become general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party's Central Committee, succeeding Leonid Brezhnev who'd died just two days earlier. You have to hand it to communists, they might want to take your yacht off you but they don't hang around when it comes to replacing people.

Over in Asia, Yasuhiro Nakasone emulated Yuri, by becoming Prime Minister of Japan.

And, on the very borderlands of Asia and Europe, Kenan Evren became only the seventh president of Turkey.

Admittedly, I only included that last one because, when I first read it on Wikipedia, I thought it said Kenny Everett had become president of Turkey. I did wonder how come I'd never heard about that.

Things were nothing like so pivotal in Britain but, that month, history of a sort was made, as Channel 4 was launched, with Richard Whiteley's words and numbers quiz Countdown being the first show it broadcast.

That show is, famously, still running but without the now deceased Whiteley. Richard's other great fame was, of course, being honorary mayor of the Yorkshire Wolds town of Wetwang.

Surely, no greater honour can befall a man.

Far away from there, that month, in London, the Thames Flood Barrier was publicly demonstrated for the first time.

Thriller may have been about to set the world of music afire but, atop the UK album chart, there was no sign of it, with the month kicking-off with 
the Kids From Fame at Number One, thanks to their album of the same name. That was soon dethroned, however, by ABBA's The Singles - The First Ten Years, before that platter had to make way for The John Lennon Collection.

In retrospect, I can't help feeling the title of that ABBA album was simply tempting fate.

Over on the UK singles chart, November launched with Eddy Grant's I Don't Wanna Dance on top before it was given the push by the Jam's Beat Surrender which, I believe, was their last-ever release before Paul Weller left and introduced us, instead, to the power and majesty of the Style Council.

But what of the power and majesty of 2000 AD? What was the galaxy's greatest comic up to while all this was going on?

It was still giving us Robo-Hunter, Harry Twenty on the High Rock, Judge Dredd, Rogue Trooper, Tharg's Future Shocks and The Ace Trucking Co.

It also gave us something called Hemlock Bones which my razor-sharp mind tells me is likely to have been a Sherlock Holmes parody.

Prog 290, meanwhile, was giving us the chance to snap up a Pac-Man wristwatch. The 1980s had truly arrived.

2000 AD Prog 289, Judge Dredd

2000 AD Prog 290, Tharg

2000 AD Prog 291, Judge Dredd

2000 AD Prog 292, Robo-Hunter

Thursday, 17 December 2020

December 17th, 1980 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

Thanks to Charlie Horse 47 and Killdumpster for their sponsorship of this post, via the magic of Patreon

***

I've never seen an entire episode of Magnum P.I

That didn't stop them making it.

And this week in 1980 was when we were first allowed to see it.

It made its debut, on CBS, with a two-hour pilot designed to fill the slot vacated by Hawaii Five-O. Book him, Danno? They certainly did, for a whopping 162 episodes of moustache-wielding crime-thwartery.

Critics didn't like it but it still made a household name of Tom Selleck and whoever that other bloke was who might have been English but, also, might have been an American putting it on.

Back in the UK, on the Hit Parade, John Lennon grabbed the top spot with the final single he'd released before his death (Just Like) Starting Over.

He may have dislodged them from the peak of the singles listings but, on the album chart, ABBA were proving a much tougher beast and retained the stranglehold established by Super Trouper.

Spider-Man and Hulk Weekly #406, Mesmero

Super-villain turned entertainer Mesmero's out to inflict vengeance upon those reviewers who've wounded him with the slings and arrows of outrageous critique. But can Spider-Man stop him before he bumps off any more of them?

What's more, can Daredevil prevent Blizzard from interfering with the US Mail?

That's right. In news hot off the presses, the man without fear makes his sensational return to the comic. And, right away, he's up against the artist formerly known as Jack Frost.

Team-Up #14, Marvel UK, the Salem Seven vs the Fantastic Four

I spot Salem's Seven on the cover.

And that tells me Agatha Harkness' son's still possessing Franklin Richards, and the FF, Agatha and the exorcist Gabriel have all set off to her old stomping ground to do something about it.

Elsewhere, something's leapt out of the Eye of Agamotto and knocked out Dr Strange and Clea.

Hearing the kerfuffle, Spider-Man's gone rushing into Strange's house - only to be confronted by Ms Marvel in her spiffy new costume.

Future Tense #7, Star Trek

Captain Kirk's very slowly going where no man has gone before, as Marvel's adaptation of Star Trek: The Motion Picture continues.

Even more excitingly, still stuck on the planet Earth, the Micronauts find themselves having to confront their deadliest menace yet.

The power and majesty of Plantman!

And Warlock has to fight a talking rat!

Valour #7

Dr Strange's quest to find Clea is impeded by a giant dragon - and then by Clea herself who seems to have turned evil!

Devil Dinosaur finds himself up against a giant triceratops man.

Merlin's still having his suspicions about the mystery visitor to King Arthur's castle.

Conan's leading a raid on a tribe of vampires. One that doesn't go well.

In this week's tale of Asgard, the youthful Thor's, basically, responsible for the creation of the human race. I don't remember that fact ever being mentioned again.

Forces in Combat #32, Machine Man vs the Fantastic Four

Machine Man would appear to be helping the Fantastic Four battle a very cartoony-looking phantom.

Apparently, it's called Ion.

But what's this? The cover boasts that the comic's chamber of horror begins this issue.

I don't have a clue what its chamber of horror is but I do take the view a man can never have enough horror in his life.

Sunday, 13 December 2020

Forty years ago today - December 1980.

Thanks to Charlie Horse 47 and Killdumpster for their sponsorship of this post, via the magic of Patreon.
***

Christmas may be mere days away but there's no rest for the wicked, as I plunge, once more, into Santa's Great Big Stocking of History and see what Marvel's big-hitters were up to in their books that bore a cover date of December 1980.

Fantastic Four #225, giant space Vikings vs Thor

The Fantastic Four do their best to help the giant space Vikings but, when a villainous space Viking sets out to kill his own king, the rest of the space Vikings think the FF are responsible, and are soon out for blood.

Fortunately, that's when Thor shows up and gives the attackers a good slapping, meaning the FF only have to stand around watching while the thunder god clears up the whole sorry mess for them.

My memory is that Thor seems somewhat crowbarred into this story and I'm not sure what his motivation is for even turning up when he does.

Incredible Hulk #254, the U-Foes

With a name like, "The U-Foes," you'd be forgiven for thinking the Hulk's up against a gang of aliens but, instead, it's a quartet determined to recreate the incident which gave the Fantastic Four special abilities, by flying into those deadly Cosmic Rays, themselves.

Unfortunately for them, by pure chance, Bruce Banner stumbles into their Mission Control and aborts their voyage, remotely, bringing them back to Earth, before their radiation dosage maxes out.

Needless to say, they're not pleased with him and, newly empowered, decide to teach him a lesson.

Needless to say, he teaches them a lesson, by turning into the Hulk and smashing them in the face until they're killed by their own powers.

Needless to say, we've all learned a valuable lesson today.

X-Men #140, the Wendigo

Still in Canada, Nightcrawler and Wolverine, with 
the assistance of Alpha Flight, grapple with the Wendigo.

By means I can't remember, the beast is transformed back into his human form and the Canadian government shows its gratitude by disbanding Alpha Flight.

I assume this means they won't be wanting Wolverine back anymore.

Captain America #252, Batroc and Mr Hyde

Mr Hyde's plan to blow up New York, with an oil tanker, continues but, now, he's up against not just Captain America but Batroc, as well.

How can the villain hope to triumph against such a combination?

He can't.

That's why he loses and New York's still standing, even as I type these words.

Thor #302

If I recall correctly, some sort of bank worker gains super-powers, by some means I can't remember, declares himself to be called Locus and decides to rob the bank.

Unfortunately, for him, Don Blake just happens to be a customer at that establishment - and that means, it's only moments before Locus is up against the virtually all-powerful thunder god.


I do believe Conan's hired to break into a fortress and do something or other but, when he gets inside, it turns out the damsel-in-distress he's picked up along the way, is actually the evil wizard who owns the place, and Conan has to overcome his power of illusion, in order to kill him.

Avengers #202, Ultron

Ultron's back and still up to no good.

This time, he's managed to take over Tony Stark's mind and gets Shellhead to abduct the Scarlet Witch for him.

Happily, Hawkeye's around to defeat the rascally robot by inflicting the same fate upon it that befell the antagonist of Terminator II.

Amazing Spider-Man #211, the Sub-Mariner

Spider-Man agrees to protect a ship that's sailing into waters liable to attack by Atlanteans.

And, of course, this leads to a clash with the Sub-Mariner.

I'm assuming it all ends happily but can't really recall just how it's all settled.

Is Attuma mixed up in all this, somehow?

Iron Man #141

Justin Hammer's nothing like as dead as everyone thought he was - and he's holding Tony Stark's girlfriend, along with a bunch of other people, hostage.

No one'll be surprised to hear Iron Man quickly shows up and rescues her.

But the horrible Hammer escapes to fight another day.

Spectacular Spider-Man #49, the Smuggler

The wall-crawler finds himself battling a new foe called the Smuggler.

From that name, I'm guessing he and his gang are in the habit of smuggling things.

I've also a feeling this tale contains a strong vibe that the Smuggler is, in reality, the original Power-Man, still licking his wounds, after his defeat at the hands of Luke Cage.

Whether this is ever confirmed as being the case, I'm not sure.

We also get a back-up strip containing the White Tiger but I recall nothing of that one, at all.

Thursday, 10 December 2020

December 10th, 1980 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

Thanks to Charlie Horse 47 and Killdumpster for their sponsorship of this post, via the magic of Patreon.
***

A wise man once said, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."

It was John Lennon, on his final album and, this week in 1980, just three weeks after that LP was released, the claim was validated in the most dramatic of circumstances, as his comeback was brought to a permanent halt by his murder outside his New York home.

In a more cheery vein, on this night, that year, a repeat of BBC One's The Goodies reacquainted the world with the Lancastrian martial art of ' Ecky Thump, and black pudding sales would never be the same again.

Aside from their careers as comedians, the Goodies, of course, had numerous hit singles but, even so, they were mere sales pigmies before ABBA who celebrated another week of topping both the UK singles and album chart, with their platters entitled Super-Trouper.

Forces in Combat #31, ROM

That's a very dramatic cover and I'd assume, from it, that ROM's still gatecrashing the Dire Wraiths' fake funeral, one which is threatening to become a very real burial for the robotic fighter of evil.

Especially now that Serpentyne's showed up.

Not that I have a clue who Serpentyne is but he's named after a river in London, so he must be awesome.

Elsewhere, Nick Fury's busy liberating Treblinka.

And we get the chance to win 10 Kodak cameras, though, personally, I'll settle for winning just one.

Spider-Man and Hulk Weekly #405

The Hulk's up against Woodgod's mutated animal friends and is starting to get the feeling no one likes him.

Elsewhere, Spider-Man's hired as stage assistant to Mesmero who's turned his back on crime, in order to forge a new career, in showbiz.

Needless to say, Mesmero's back doesn't stay turned for long and, pretty soon, he's out to kill the critics who've dared to pan his performances.

Marvel Team-Up #13, Marvel UK, Spider-Man and Dr Strange

Spider-Man and Dr Strange find themselves up against someone with the power of the Tarot.

Who that might be, I could not say.

Nor can I say anything about anything else that happens in this comic, other than that Ms Marvel, the Fantastic Four, Daredevil and Morbius all have contributions to make towards filling it.

Future Tense #6, Star Trek

Hooray! Marvel's adaptation of Star Trek: The  Motion Picture begins this week!

Now we can travel the universe, at a snail's pace, from the comfort of our armchairs and not have to bother with that pesky cinema-thing everyone's talking about, these days.

Ant-Man's still out to stop Odd John's insect army, as led by a heavily evilised Bug.

Star-Lord's up against Shreen the Huntress.

And Adam Warlock's arrived on Counter-Earth, in his mission to stop the menace of the Man-Beast.

The only problem is he's now lost his memory, got himself lumbered with a bunch of teenagers, and the Man-Beast is about to set a giant rat on him.

Valour #6, Conan

Conan clearly has his hands full, protecting his adopted village from a tribe of vampires.

Even further into the past, having courageously seen off the attack of a herbivorous iguanodon, Devil Dinosaur sets off to rescue Moon-Boy from a tribe of ape-men who want to feed him to a giant spider.

I'm not totally convinced this is a strictly accurate portrayal of Stone Age life.

In the present, Dr Strange is still looking for the missing Clea but meets opposition from a bunch of Chinese gentlemen.

This week's tale of Asgard sees the youthful Thor rescue Sif from Hela and we're informed that Sif is Balder's sister.

But, hold on, didn't Stan the Man set up a romantic triangle between Thor, Balder and Sif, with Balder doing the, "If only she would gazeth upon me as she doth Thor," routine?

I'm saying nothing.

Far away from all that, Merlin still has his suspicions about the mystery visitor to King Arthur's castle.

Tuesday, 8 December 2020

The Marvel Lucky Bag - December 1980.

Thanks to Charlie Horse 47 and Killdumpster for their sponsorship of this post, via the magic of Patreon.
***

Something very odd happened in December 1980.

And that was that the movie Superman II was released.

Except it was only released in Australia and mainland Europe, while the United States, its country of origin, had to wait until the following summer to see it.

As far as I'm aware, there was no such confusion for Flash Gordon. His movie came out in that month as well - and Americans were actually allowed to view it.

And it wasn't the only one. That December also saw the release of Robin Williams' Popeye movie and the Dolly Parton/Jane Fonda/Lily Tomlin vehicle 9 to 5.

Francis, Brother of the Universe #1

I do like the title of this comic. It makes it sound like we're about to read the travails of a pacifist space adventurer.

Instead, it turns out it covers the life of St Francis of Assisi, as depicted by Mary Jo Duffy and John Buscema.

Marvel Preview #24, Paradox

I genuinely don't know anything about this comic, other than it seems to have a zillion pages and mostly be the work of Bill Mantlo and Val Mayerik, with a cover by Paul Gulacy.

I don't even know if Paradox is the name of a character, an organisation of just a concept.

Is it set on Earth? Is it set in space? Who can say?

The Savage She-Hulk #11, She-Hulk is dying

It's the one in which She-Hulk's afflicted by a mystery illness that's causing both her strength and her life to ebb away.

Needless to say, she does the obvious and recruits the help of the world's greatest blood scientist.

The only problem is his name's Michael Morbius.

Sgt Fury and his Howling Commandos #161, Peacemonger

It's a rare appearance in this feature for Nick Fury and his merry men.

I've not got any good reason for featuring it this time. I'm just intrigued by this issue's title, "Peacemonger."

Anyway, it turns out it's a reprint of a story from 1969.

What that story involves, I cannot say.

What If? #24, Spider-Man had rescued Gwen Stacy

It's the big one; the one that asks what would have happened had Spider-Man managed to rescue Gwen Stacy, instead of accidentally breaking her neck.

Presumably, she'd have had to explain to him how come she was pregnant and why her twins bore a remarkable resemblance to Norman Osborn.

In retrospect, it's possibly best she stayed dead.

Oddity of the issue is it has a back-up story and that story has nothing at all to do with Spider-Man or Gwen.

It involves the Eternals and explores their early history.

I'm assuming the origin of the Eternals is basically the same as the origin of the Inhumans, just with a different bunch of aliens behind it.

ROM #13

I'm including this one purely because that's an... ...erm... ...interesting cover.

This book would appear to include two stories; one in which an amnesiac ROM has to battle the Plunderer who's still obsessed with getting his hands on Vibranium, and another in which ROM turns down the chance to become human, in order to carry on fighting Dire Wraiths wherever they are in the universe.

The Plunderer. They're really going for the top-drawer villains in this one. It can only be a matter of time before the Masked Marauder shows up.

Amazing Spider-Man Annual #14, Dr Strange and Dr Doom

Anyone who doesn't want this one must be a raving lunatic.

As far as I can make out, not only do Spider-Man and Dr Strange team-up but so do Dormammu and Dr Doom!

It would seem the villainous pair unite in an attempt to create a thing called, "The Bend Sinister," which is probably not the most awe-inspiring name ever given to an Earth-threatening menace.

Apparently, Hitler also shows up in this book. In what capacity, I do not know.

Marvel Premiere #57, Doctor Who

It's the most important moment in the history of civilisation, as Doctor Who makes its American comic book debut, thanks to reprints from Marvel UK's mag.

In the main strip, the Doctor tangles with the Iron Legion, while the book also includes one-page features that fill new readers in on the Doctor, his friends and foes.