Thursday, 9 January 2020

January 9th, 1980 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

Have you ever felt swindled?

I know I have.

I felt swindled on this very evening in 1980 when BBC Two was showing the 1940s cinema serial Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe.

Despite its title, Flash Gordon at no point in it conquers the Universe. How was I going to ever overcome such disappointment?

I wasn't.

I still haven't.

Still, at least I could take solace in the pages of that week's Marvel UK output.

Star Wars Weekly #98

That cover may hint at excitement but the truth is that, inside, Luke's complaining that he feels bored since he destroyed the Death Star and now has no one to kill.

Charlie-27 certainly has someone to kill. Granted, it's just a computer because, for some reason, it's attacking him and endangering Vance Astro. Can the Jovial Jovian stop it in time?

Of Deathlok's affairs, I know nothing this week but I do know our tale of the Watcher covers events when another planet's about to smash into the Earth.

Needless to say, everyone's convinced we're all going to die - except for one man who has faith that God will save us all.

And then it turns out it's not a planet. It's an alien spaceship, here on a mission of friendship and we're not going to die.

At this point, the man starts telling everyone else off for not having faith, like he did, and they all agree that he was right and they should have listened to him, even though he wasn't right and there was no reason at all to listen to him.

Hulk Comic #45, They

The Hulk and Goldbug are in the Andes, meeting the enigmatic "They" for the first time.

Still trapped at insect size, Ant-Man and the Wasp have to survive an attack by an angry kitten.

When you write sentences like that, you suddenly realise why Ant-Man's strip never took off.

The Black Knight and Captain Britain are about to set off in search of King Arthur.

Loki decides to recruit the Silver Surfer, in order to get him to fight Thor.

And, now that the Red Rajah's been defeated, the Defenders reel with shock as Dr Strange announces he's quitting the gang.

Not only that but so are Luke Cage and the Red Guardian!

How can the non-team possibly survive such a threat to their existence?

Doctor Who Weekly #13, Tom Baker

It's good news for Charlie, as the Doctor finally makes the front cover of his own comic.

My information about this week's contents is sketchy but who cares about that? All that matters is we have a chance to win one of those horizontal Kodak cameras which took terrible pictures and were all the rage in the very early 1980s.
Spectacular Spider-Man Weekly #357

Devoid of his super-powers, Spidey's trailing the man who killed Uncle Ben, all the way back to Aunt May's old house. Can our hero possibly stop him, without his special abilities?

Elsewhere, Iron Man's up against the Super-Adaptoid in his brand new - and far more exciting - incarnation as the skeletal Cyborg.

Of the other strips featured in this issue, I can say nothing.


dangermash said...

On Tuesday night's post, there's some banter going on about sports comics that I'm going to drag over here to today's post.

In The Apprentice UK this year, there was an episode where both teams needed to design and print the first Issue of a new comic series aimed at 8-year olds. It's not the first time they've done this but every time they do it, both teams make the same mistake. They come up with something aimed at pre-school kids. Jonny Jupiter and his Magic Dinosaur Sidekick Steggy. Every week he has adventures with monsters and the reader learns all about space and dinosaurs. What a pile of crap! When I was 8, I was reading Spider-Man Comics Weekly. Other kids at school were reading Look In, Roy Of The Rovers, TV21, Warlord or The Beano. If anybody bought us comics like Jonny Jupiter, they'd have been dumped off in the dentist's waiting room at the first opportunity.

If I was "project manager" for a task like this, I'd be coming up with a superhero/sports hybrid. Maybe superhero with cat-like powers who also played in goal as a professional footballer. I'd bring together the best characteristics of Marvel Comics and Roy Of The Rovers. The rest of the football team would act as supporting cast, all with distinct personalities am the occasional devoted storyline. Every week there would be either a big match or a fight with a villain, maybe both. And there would be Peter Parker type dilemmas, with the star of the comic having to somehow balance his duties to the team with his duties as a superhero. "I need to be in town by 10pm tonight to interrupt the villain's scheme but it looks like this game is going to penalties. Should I just concede a goal so I can get away early?"

I mean, what 8-year old is not going to want to buy a comic like that? And still be buying it ten years later?

McSCOTTY said...

But wWhat 8 year old (sadly) wants to buy any comic!?. Harsh? I dont think so but your right so many folk are not getting it right, not that I have any suggestions on what constitutes a good comic format.

Killdumpster said...

There was a NFL "American football" related hero at Marvel.
I think he was called Super-Pro, or some such thing. Horrible comic.

Damn! Steve spanks poor ol' Ant-Man once again!!

Steve W. said...

I remember Cobalt Man looking strangely like an American footballer when he turned up in the Hulk's comic.

Killdumpster said...

Yeah, Steve! I think it was Cobalt Man's face-guard that my have caused that resemblance. Instead of the complete redesign, wish they would have just touched-up his suit from his 1st appearance in X-Men.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

WOW! Marvel UK is on a roll this week! Spidey is the # 1 superhero, Who is TV's # 1 hero...

I still don't see why Hulk couldn't simply be Marvel's #1 sensation?

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Nice to see Harpo back on the cover of Who! I wonder if his mug gets smaller the next issues, until he is finally replaced by a Dartlik, and then he comes back front and center?

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Steve -

On the 8th of February the inaugural World Championships in Beer Mat Flipping is being held at The Ship & Shovel pub, Warsash, Hampshire.

I am just wondering if you will be providing live coverage? I mean it is just around the corner.

I used to be pretty good at this when hanging out at the Gasthaus, Gast stube, Wien Keller's in Germany...

B.t.w. when you guys write something like "Warsash, Hampshire" does "everyone" have an idea where it is? Should I assume it is not in Wales or Scotland, but England, b/c o/wise it would also ad Wales or Scotland to the location?

Steve W. said...

Charlie, I don't have a clue where Warsash is. To be honest, I'd struggle to point at Hampshire on a map. I do know it's definitely somewhere in the south of England.

When it comes to Scotland and Wales, generally, the name of the county would be enough for people to know it was in one of those.

Dangermash and McScotty, I agree. As a rule, things for eight year olds should be written as though they're for eleven year olds.

Killdumpster said...

I was exposed to comics before elementary school. While I got a few of the funny animal format & Casper Harvey stuff (Spooky was my favorite), I gravitated early to DC & Marvel heroes.

I loved the action. I tormented my parents, asking what one of Stan Lee's $10 words meant. I got a dictionary for Christmas, eventually. Lol.

Not knowing the capability of kids (or interest) today, I know personally my friends & I preferred not to read "kiddie stuff".

To be honest, if Marvel comics back in my childhood were like they are today, I wouldn't touch them. 80% of the book is conversation and/or sitting at a table eating, 2 or 3 pages of action, & the rest of the book house ads.

You open the cover, no "splash page".
It's all text & credits, sometimes for 2 pages!! And at $3.99+!!!

Kids aren't going to read that crap.

I'm telling you, oh my brothers. We got alot of premium entertainment in the 60's & 70's, for only 12 to 50 cents an issue.

Killdumpster said...

Iinstead of reading most of the new books, I'd rather read old Daredevil's, even if he's fighting the Jester or Stunt Master. Lol. (A tip-of-the-hat to my boy, Charlie.)

Redartz said...

Steve- funny that you mention those Kodak pocket cameras. I've been scanning old negatives to archive on the computer. The 35mm negatives are a piece of cake, but I had one of those 110 pocket cameras. Those tiny negatives are impossible to work with...

KD- preach it! We had it great, comic wise........

Anonymous said...

I thought it was the southern English that were supposed to be clueless about the north Steve, so its good to see you doing your bit for equality. To be fair though, most folk in Hampshire would probably struggle with Sheffield's exact location on a map.

BeerMat-Man! Hows that for a superhero/sports hybrid, dangermash?
As the UK breaks up - making Captain Britain irrelevant - the English need their own hero. Who better than BeerMat-Man to defend them from the metropolitan elitists spreading sharia law?


Anonymous said...

PS I don't have a clue what was going on in any of that issue of Star Wars, but its a pretty safe bet that Deathlok was wandering around a near future empty New York infested with cannibals (don't ask me how a city can be empty AND infested with cannibals) arguing with the computer in his head, as that seemed to be the plot of every Deathlok story.


Steve W. said...

KD, thanks to Stan Lee, "Abomination," was the longest word I knew at the age of seven.

Sean, I genuinely remember nothing of anything that happened in any Deathlok story. Having said that, I'm not sure I even bothered reading his adventures when he was in Star Wars Weekly. I was highly Deathlok averse.

Red, I still have some photos from one of those cameras. The picture quality's so bad, it's a wonder anyone ever used them.

Colin Jones said...

Steve, the meaning of 'Flash Gordon Conquers The Universe' was explained at the very end of the serial - Emperor Ming called himself "The Universe" so by defeating Ming, Flash had conquered the universe.

Killdumpster said...

I'd buy a Beermat Man comic.

Steve W. said...

Colin, I remember them giving that explanation. Needless to say, it didn't prevent me feeling swindled.

KD, I'm sure we all would.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Steve - I do hope that you can google the location and give us live coverage of the beer mat flipping world championships? I am not sure it will be on ESPN in the USA? It's only like 25 days away!

KD - Yep - DD rocks the house especially when Boy Roy wasn't on the weed, or whatever, lol!

I['d buy a beermat comic too!

Kids reading comics... I never, ever saw a kid at the spinner racks in my 5 years of buying comics. In fact, I saw more women (!) buying girlie mags, which always seemed to be nearby. wherever I bought comics, lol. Go figure that one out! POint being that I don't think it's quite fair to contribute the demise of comics to the internet... It really started dropping off after WW 2 if you look at long trends in comic readership.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

My inspiration for the question was the “Two Brothers” song that Steve said was #1 on the UK charts 50 years ago. It involves one brother rescuing another on his horse during war time.

Did any of you gents have a favorite protest song from 50 or so years ago?

I know we were a little young to be hating on America killing 1,000,000 Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Laotians in 1970. But within a few years we probably developed awareness and, given things didn’t change so quickly back then, probably heard the protest songs on FM radio if nothing else.

Perhaps my two favs:

“I ain’t no Senator’s son by Credence Clearwater.”

“Billy Don’t Be a Hero”

Redartz said...

Charlie- yes, I was fond of Coven's "One Tin Soldier ". Still like it, still carries a good message...

Anonymous said...

I like the song "I've Known no War" by The Who.
It wasn't one of their best songs and it was from a kinda crappy album (for the Who, anyway), but Daltrey pulls it off. If not for him it wouldn't work.
Billy Joel's "Goodnight Saigon" was brilliant. He was putting out some good stuff then.
"Rooster" by Alice in Chains is also very powerful. "Rooster" was apparently the nickname of the father of one of the Band members.
I remember hearing it on the radio in college, and not being able to make the lyrics very well, I got it into my head that it was about a farmer who hated to get up in the morning.
"Here comes the rooster..."

Jesus, they're saying Neil Peart died. I'm honestly grieved by that.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Red - I was I could find "Billy Jack" on the Netflix or something!

Anonymous said...

Fave protest song?
"Inglan is a Bitch" by Linton Kwesi Johnson is a good one - I like the way it still has the power to get a reaction (in England anyway) even decades later. Plus, I'm an ungrateful immigrant too ;)
Theres a few Irish rebel songs that are pretty good for dividing the room, but perhaps this isn't really the place...

Not sure if it counts as a song as such, but that Malcolm X "No Sell Out" record always sounds great. He had a real way with words.


Anonymous said...

I guess I thought we were talking about "war protest" songs. My bad.
Protest songs in general, that's a whole different deal.
That's a pretty wide category.
Any major artist who's worth their salt has at least dabbled in that, with varying degrees of success and sincerity.
I'm partial to a bit of "gutter outrage" on occasion, being from the working class. Springsteen and Mellencamp were particularly good at that. But we have a long tradition of protest songs in the U.S.


Dougie said...

Re: kids and comics.They read them if they get access to them.
I buy a few of the UK Marvel reprints every month and I always scan Free Comic Book day for freebies. I put them all in a box in my classroom. Kids from 11 to 15 read them- the 16/17 year olds not so much.
I donated some graphic novels in our school library and some tpbs. One of my S1 boys raved about the Fox/Sekowsky Silver Age JLA vol.1 . One of my S2 boys loves the current UK Avengers title. Another read the DC Ink Raven book from cover to cover. And one of the autistic boys in S4 is transfixed by the Al Williamson Empire Strikes Back.
Teen girls from about 12 up are crazy about Riverdale and Stranger Things comics: my copies are falling apart.
Our librarian is looking at buying Black Canary by Meg Cabot and Superman Smashes the Klan.
It's not as bleak as some of our age like to paint it.

Killdumpster said...

Thanks for the enlightenment. That sounds hopeful.

A band called Decry covered CCR's "Fortunate Son". It is a cool punk-rockin' version.

"Machine Gun" by Jimi Hendrix is one of my anti-war favorites.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Gents - sorry I was a little imprecise. I was thinking anti-war songs b/c "Two Brothers" from the UK is set during war (I guess WW 1?)

We did have a huge pro-war song here, in the 60s, "Ballad of the Green Beret." It's pretty cool in itself.

Sean - that was interesting... I never really thought of a protest song in context of an internal issue... But we did have our civil rights movement (still a work in progress) and it spawned / popularized numerous songs here. I remember singing "Marching to Pretoria" for gosh sakes, in the 60s, in public school.

(KD - this was not forced on us by an Single Jewish Women! :))

Killdumpster said...

While never a Rush fan, I appreciate the talent of Neil Peart. RIP.

Charlie, I found a Billy Jack DVD boxset at a discount shop a few years ago.

In my opinion, the first two films "Born Losers" & "Billy Jack" are the only good ones.

"Trial of Billy Jack" is so-so, while "Billy Jack Goes To Washington" is awful.

Steve W. said...

Let's see, war-based protest songs...

Off the top of my head, the ones that first leap to mind as appealing to me are:

Shipbuilding - Elvis Costello.

Bomber's Moon - Mike Harding.

Between the Wars - Billy Bragg.

Eve of Destruction - Barry McGuire.

Brothers in Arms - Dire Straits.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

KD - Yep - I dig the first two BJ's with the first being the best. I saw one or both of the 3rd and 4th BJs but they were, to quote, "awful."

My fav line is where BJ says he is going to plant his right foot on the right cheek of the redneck in front of him and there's not a dam thing he can do about it.

Killdumpster said...

Ha ha! Once at a amusement park I won a "Billy Jack" style hat from a ring-toss game, When I was about 13 years old.

You kinda have be tall to carry that look, lol.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate Dougie's comment as well.
It's good to hear that there are still young people who dig comics. And also gratifying to read that there are still good comics being made.
Maybe I kinda fell into the pattern of being a grumpy, cynical middle-aged fart when it comes to the state of comics today. Instead of grumbling under my breath when I go into the local comic store, maybe I oughtta open my eyes and look around at some of the new stuff.
Comics are never gonna mean as much to kids now as they did to us then, for obvious reasons, but I see no reason why the whole epic and goofy parade shouldn't keep going.
...Still, I'm never gonna get used to the idea of me being older than Batman.
It's...uncomfortably weird.

Just as long as he's not as dumb as me, I guess it's okay.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, I agree with Dougie too. When I was drawing rubbish comic strips, any kids I met were always interested, even if they didn't read them much. Adults too actually ("oh, you're a cartoonist...?").
Specialist shops (and relative expense) are a problem, although its worth pointing out that comics were already disappearing from mainstream outlets - especially large chains - as being low cost items they offered a relatively low return on retail space.
Capitalism, eh?

Steve, Elvis Costello may have written it, but I much prefer the original version of Shibuilding by Robert Wyatt. Mind you, I tend to think of it more as topical, rather than a protest song as such. Like, say, Winter In America by Gil Scott-Heron.


Anonymous said...

*Poor edit there - by "already disappearing from mainstream outlets" I meant before the spread of the Direct Market.