Thursday 30 April 2020

April 30th, 1980 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

Today's post is sponsored by Charlie Horse 47, via the magick of Patreon.

You know what I've always loved?

Blank incomprehension about the lyrics of a song.

And that means I was in Heaven in this week of exactly forty years ago.

That's because it was the week in which Dexy's Midnight Runners sprinted to the top of the UK singles chart, with Geno, their tribute to legendary Soul singer Geno Washington.

Granted, when I say, "Legendary," I must confess my knowledge of his career comes entirely from that song.

And, having said that, "Knowledge," may also be an overstatement, as, beyond his name, I've gleaned no understanding of his career from it, due to not being able to understand any of the words.

Despite my blank incomprehension, though, I was a major fan of the record and was very pleased to see it at Number One.

Not so exciting for me was what was happening on the LP chart where the nightmare Rock-Classical fusion band Sky had snatched the top spot with their album Sky 2.

Sky were, of course, made up of such musicians as the John Williams who wasn't the John Williams who wrote the Star Wars theme, the bloke who wrote Clive Dunn's Grandad, and a bloke called Tristan.

I must confess I've never heard the album but, from my experience of their singles, I've no doubt it was a very civilised affair.

Incredible Hulk Weekly #61, Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel shows up to prevent the Hulk killing Glenn Talbot and ends up helping him to get to Jarella's world by, somehow, shrinking him to the size of an iota.

Other than that, I can say little of this issue but I do see the sensational She-Hulk's due to make her presence felt in the book, even though it has mere weeks to live.

Star Wars Weekly #114

I do believe the monster that was trying to kill our heroes last week is still on the loose and in as bad a mood now as it was then.

And it's even worse than that - because someone called Lopaki is out to take Luke and Leia prisoner!

Elsewhere in space, it's a shock to our systems as Man-Wolf suddenly has a presence in the comic.

He would appear to be in a tale from his spell as sword-wielding galactic adventurer.

In truth, I've no memory of him ever having been in the book, or of ever having read his outer space adventures, which is odd, as I've always been partial to Man-Wolf and would have thought such a thing would have stuck in my mind.

Regardless, I'm assuming he's been brought in to replace Monark Starstalker.

I, therefore, assume Deathlok and Tales of the Watcher are still present, though I couldn't say so for certain.

Doctor Who Weekly #29, Tom Baker

The Doctor's still up against the Dogs of Doom.

We get a look at the BBC's Radiophonic Workshop and are granted the chance to win a sound-effects record.

Marvel's adaptation of First Men in the Moon continues. It seems to have been going on for years. I could have walked to the moon in less time than it's taken them to fly there.

We get a text story called The Sands of Time.

And we get more of the Abslom Daak tale Star Tigers.

Dogs of War? Star Tigers? It's like you can't move, for deadly animals, once you travel out into the cosmos.

That's why I'm staying at home and spending my time reading this week's Spectacular Spider-Man Weekly.

Spectacular Spider-Man Weekly #373, the Punisher

Spidey's still teamed with the Punisher in that tale whose events I have little memory of and whose villain I don't recall.

I believe that, at Spidey's insistence, the Punisher only uses, "Mercy bullets," in this tale.

Do such things exist?

I'm suspecting not.

I'm suspecting they're just a comic book thing.

Sunday 26 April 2020

Detective Comics #440 - Ghost Mountain Midnight.

This post is brought to you by the kind sponsorship of Charlie Horse 47, via Patreon. Thank you, Charlie. There is, I am sure, a place in Heaven for you.


Detective Comics #440, Ghost Mountain Midnight
If ever there was a comic I bought for the cover, it was this one.

Admittedly, I also bought it because it starred Batman, was an issue of Detective Comics and contained a massive 100 pages of, no doubt, slam-bam action just asking to be read.

But most of all, I bought it because its cover featured a purple bear threatening our hero - as portrayed by Jolting Jim Aparo.

Well, that's all very well and great but what of the book's actual contents?

Bruce Wayne's on a date in a restaurant when a bunch of rednecks burst in and kidnap one of the waitresses.

Needless to say, it's mere moments before Bruce has made his excuses and, in his guise as Gotham's mysterious protector, gone off to deal with the abductors,

Despite being a man who can, apparently, beat up Superman any time he wants to, our hero's quickly vanquished by a single hillbilly with a rifle butt and then has to go trudging off to the wrongdoers' hometown, in order to make a second attempt at rescuing the girl who we now know is called Sarah Beth.

She is, it seems, the sister of her abductors and, for some reason, they believe it vital that they pop her clogs for her as soon as possible.

Detective Comics #440, Batman meets the Sheriff
Upon arriving in town, our hero finds an uncooperative Sheriff who, like any responsible officer of the law, is more interested in finding an illegal still than in preventing the murder of waitresses and, so, Bats has to enter the local mountains where the kidnappers dwell, in order to fulfill his mission.

There, by eavesdropping, he discovers that, in order to keep a Native American curse at bay, the family believes it must, from time to time, sacrifice one of its own.

And this time is Sarah Beth's turn!

Detective Comics #440, at the graveside
Clearly, Batman can't stand for that kind of nonsense and flings himself into the fray.

He's clearly been having fighting lessons since their last encounter because, despite being heavily outnumbered, he soon despatches the deluded simpletons and goes to rescue Sarah Beth from her chains.

That's when an inconvenient bear shows up.

But it's no ordinary bear.

It's a homicidal bear.

With not a picnic basket in sight and having been injured by fire, it's taken to eating people - and Batman's on the menu!

Not for long, he isn't. No mere twelve-foot tall agglomeration of teeth and claws is a match for the man the Germans know as Die Fledermausenmenschen and he soon sends it flying off a cliff to its doom.

But what a lucky break that is because, at the foot of that cliff, he finds the illegal still the sheriff told him about, concludes it was that which had burnt the bear, and then returns to town to give the lawman a good smack in the mouth, having deduced, on no great evidence, that he put the still there in the first place.

Mission accomplished.

Detective Comics #440, Wham!
I do like this tale. With its Deliverance meets Scooby-Doo plot, it's the sort of thing I love to see from a Batman story.

I do enjoy it when Batman's handled as a detective rather than a super-hero and this yarn, with its minor sense of mystery and its very simple plot, thus, appeals to me greatly.

I suspect it's not viewed as one of the all-time classic Batman adventures but it's solidly written by Archie Goodwin and cleanly drawn by Sal Amendola; with Dick Giordano's inks helping to lend it that look we associate with 1970s Batman.

So, yes, I can announce that, for me, with that cover, this story, that bear, and dozens of pages of back-up strips, this was definitely a book worth spending that 50 pence on.

Thursday 23 April 2020

April 23rd, 1980 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

Other than Zimbabwe gaining independence, this week in 1980 was one of limited eventfulness.

Come to think of it, I'm sure this is the 20th time I've reported on the independence of Zimbabwe. Just how many times did it gain independence?

Not that I care. Political reality's nothing to me, not compared to the jostlings and battlings of the UK singles chart.

And so it is that I can report that, in this week of that year, Blondie hit the top of that chart, thanks to the song Call Me.

I do believe it was a Blondie single in name only and that, of the group, Debbie Harry was the only one on it, with the rest of the contribution coming from the magic production fingers of Giorgio Moroder.

As if that weren't excitement enough, a remarkable feat was afoot, for, at that very moment, The Jam had no less than 7 singles in the Top 75, leaving no one in any doubt as to their rise to commercial dominance.

Over on the album chart, the roost was still being ruled by Rose Royce's Greatest Hits, which was a serious achievement, bearing in mind they didn't really have that many hits.

Incredible Hulk Weekly #60

As the comic nears its doom, the Hulk's still at Hulkbuster Base and trying to retrieve Jarella's body, despite the best attempts of Glenn Talbot to stop him.

But who is the mystery man who has the power to judge the world's mightiest mortal?

It's Captain Marvel.

My knowledge of the rest of this issue is limited but I assume Captain Britain and the Black Knight are still on their quest for something or other and that Valkyrie's probably having her first encounter with the ever-annoying Lunatik.

Spectacular Spider-Man Weekly #372, the Punisher

Now it's trouble! The Punisher's in Peter Parker's flat and confronting him about his, "Secret."

But what secret?

I don't know. I don't remember.

And that's where my knowledge of this week's contents begins and ends, as I don't remember anything else about it.

But, from that cover, I do believe this is the issue in which Jonah has the mental breakdown which ultimately leads to him losing his memory.

Star Wars Weekly #113

Luke and friends find themselves in an abandoned underground city - with a terrifying, pink monster!

Monark Starstalker's still doing whatever it is he does in his debut appearance.

Simon Ryker's mind somehow ends up in Deathlok's body.

I've no idea where Deathlok's mind ends up being.

Perhaps both minds are in the same body and fighting for supremacy?

And, in this week's Tales of the Watcher, an alien crash-lands on Earth and offers knowledge in exchange for assistance.

But will mankind's greed scupper the deal?

Knowing Tales of the Watcher, I think it's a safe bet it will.

Doctor Who Weekly #28, the Movellans

Is it my imagination or is the cover date on this comic the 23th of April?

Regardless, the Doctor's still having trouble with The Dogs of Doom.

Then again, they're called, "The Dogs of Doom." From a name like that, you'd expect to have trouble with them.

We get a two-page text article about the mighty Movellans.

We get yet more of Marvel's adaptation of First Men in the Moon.

And we get a text story titled Evil Egg. Don't ask me.

Lastly, we finish off with yet more from the Abslom Daak tale Star Tigers.

Sunday 19 April 2020

2000 AD - March 1982.

Strange things were afoot in the skies above planet Earth in March 1982.

And that was because, for the first time in human history, all nine recognised planets of the solar system were aligned on the same side of the sun.

Admittedly, when I say, "The first time in human history," that might not be true.

Then again, it might be true. I don't know enough about astronomy to say either way.

But I can only assume it meant that, at last, it was possible for us to see Counter-Earth, which does make me wonder why that astonishing fact wasn't reported in any newspapers at the time.

I smell a cover-up.

I blame that J Jonah Jameson.

Things were far more transparent on the UK singles chart, though, as the month began with Tight Fit's The Lion Sleeps Tonight at Number One.

However, even a record of that quality can't triumph forever and, by the end of March, it had been kicked off its throne by the Goombay Dance Band's equally high class Seven Tears which bore no resemblance at all to Auld Lang Syne.

Over on the British LP chart, it was a straight tussle for power between Barbra Streisand and her old rivals The Jam.

Babs entered the month at Number One, with Love Songs but lost her crown to that band's The Gift before Babs struck back to reclaim the top spot and hold on to it for the rest of the month.

That was certainly all very exciting but, speaking of events in Space, what of the galaxy's greatest comic?

As usual, it was giving us Tharg's Future Shocks, Ace Trucking Co, Nemesis the Warlock (who was having trouble with talking spiders), The Mean Arena and Rogue Trooper, while Judge Dredd was still fighting The Apocalypse War. Also, Prog 254 gave us another of Alan Moore's Abelard Snazz adventures.

Reader, I still have no memory of Abelard Snazz.

When it comes to The Ace Trucking Co, I've not the slightest clue what The Great Mush Rush was but it took up several issues and must, therefore, have been a thing of vast importance.

2000 AD Prog 254, Judge Dredd

2000 AD Prog 255, Ace Trucking Co

2000 AD Prog 256, Judge Dredd

2000 AD Prog 257, Warlock

Thursday 16 April 2020

April 16th, 1980 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

Get ready to rock, you head-banging party animals because, in this week of 1980, Iron Maiden's eponymous debut album was released in the UK.


It was so mighty it probably escaped, tearing apart the bars of its cage and overturning cars as it went.

It was so mighty that it would go on to achieve platinum sales in both Britain and Canada, which isn't bad for a debut album.

Clearly, with sales like that, it would soon be surging up the UK LP chart but, for now, it would have to settle for watching Rose Royce claim the honours, as their Greatest Hits album stood astride that very chart, at Number One, like a Colossus.

Actually, I've never heard that Iron Maiden album. It might be rubbish, for all I know.

Incredible Hulk Weekly #59

I'm going to make a magnificent guess as to what happens inside this comic.

The Hulk's trying to retrieve the body of Jarella, so he might return it to its rightful home - but Glenn Talbot's in a Mandroid suit and is out to stop him.

Valkyrie's enrolled at college and is being given a lesson in film history by Dollar Bill.

The Silver Surfer's still trying to stop the big indestructible mutant who's ruined the universe.

The Black Knight and Captain Britain are still fighting big statues at a stone circle in somewhere or other.

The Beast's trying to protect his secret identity from a female work colleague.

And I'm certain that Iron Man's still battling the Mandarin's Hulkbot.

Spectacular Spider-Man Weekly #371

I can be less guesstastic with this one, though, as I don't have a clue what's going on inside it.

However, the cover tells us we're going to get Spidey the way we like him.

I'm not sure what that means.

Up until now, have they been giving us Spidey as we don't like him?

And just what is Spidey as I don't like him?

Star Wars Weekly #112

From that cover blurb, it looks like it won't be long before Marvel UK's best-selling book has a title change.

But it looks like that's the least of concerns for C-3PO, R2-D2 and an unidentified female friend because they're clearly destined to be slaughtered by what I'm assuming is a murderous robot.

Meanwhile, we're getting more of Monark Starstalker's first appearance.

And, for some reason, Deathlok's floating around in space.

And he seems as bemused by that turn of events as I am!

Meanwhile, I've no idea what the Watcher's up to this week.

He's probably in Space, watching Deathlok and wondering what he's doing there.

Doctor Who Weekly #27, Scaroth of Jagaroth

It's good news for the Jagaroth, as their man Scaroth takes a break from stealing the Mona Lisa, to pose for this week's cover.

Inside, the Doctor's up against someone called the Dogs of Doom who seem like very unpleasant neighbours to have.

Rather more pleasantly, the comic gives us the chance to win a trip to the Doctor Who studios and be blinded by the shirts of John Nathan-Turner.

Elsewhere, the first men in the moon have been captured by the Selenites and are, no doubt, even as I type, being taken to meet their leader.

Finally, we get an Abslom Daak tale called The Star Tigers which involves the Draconians and drunkenness, in that order.

Tuesday 14 April 2020

The Marvel Lucky Bag - April 1980.

People who've followed this site for many years and paid especially close attention will know that an occasional commenter on it has been a man in the habit of calling himself just, "Aggy." He hasn't been a regular contributor but has made his presence known, from time to time.

He has, though, been far more active on Twitter, as Andrew@ataccounting and has engaged on a regular basis with myself and other writers and bloggers there.

This morning, it suddenly dawned on me that I'd not heard from him in a while. Knowing of his long-term health issues, and with the coronavirus on the loose, I had a check to see if I could find any news of him.

It was then that I discovered he died last November, just a day or two after his final tweets. This is genuinely saddening, as he always came across as a decent man of impressive reasonableness, compassion and good humour, always ready to argue against unfairness, injustice, and corruption among the powerful and always happy to promote the work of writers and artists who might need a retweet or two.

He was, of course, also a comics fan and I didn't want his passing to go unmarked on here.

Epic Illustrated #1, Frank Frazetta

A Frank Frazetta cover heralds the arrival of a new era in Marvel Comics.

I believe Epic Illustrated was the first venture Marvel published which allowed creators to retain their rights to the stories and get royalties.

Rights? Royalties? Whatever would they think of next?

Any road, this thing would appear to have had a million pages and a million stories.

Among the ones which seem most notable are an eight-page Silver Surfer story, a similar length Elfquest one and a Jim Starlin tale called Za!

Apparently, it is the debut of Za.

I don't have a clue who Za is.

And I don't know if he's related to Zo.

Micronauts #16, Psycho-Man and the Fantastic Four

If this doesn't get people excited about the Micronauts, nothing will, as the tiny titans come up against the deadly power of Psycho-Man.

How could anyone not love Psycho-Man?

Granted, the Micronauts probably don't love him but that's only because his box of tricks doesn't have a button for that particular emotion.

The Empire Strikes Back, Marvel Super Special Magazine

Excitement hits max overdrive, as the world's greatest comics company gives us its official adaptation of the second Star Wars film.

I wish I could comment on the quality of that adaptation but, even though I've read it, I genuinely don't remember anything about it, not even who drew it.

Was it another job for Howard Chaykin, as the first one had been?

Marvel Comics Star Trek #1

Not content with flinging Star Wars at us, the company gives us that other great 1980 movie with, "Star," in the title.

It all means it's a chance for us to thrill, once more, to the world's slowest adventure movie.

What If #20, the Avengers fought the Kree-Skrull War without Rick Jones

Rick Jones is obviously the glue that holds the Marvel universe together but it looks like he's come a bit unstuck here as the Avengers have to win the Kree/Skrull War without him.

Not only that but, even worse, the world will have to survive without his subsequent singing career!

Marvel Special Edition #2, The Empire Strikes Back

It's great news for all Star Wars fans because not only does Marvel give us an adaptation of the Empire Strikes Back, this month, it also gives us...

...two adaptations of The Empire Strikes Back, this month.

You have to hand it to Marvel, there aren't many companies would think to publish two adaptations of the same movie in the same month.

In fact, it would appear to be exactly the same adaptation published in two different comics.

I'm sure it made sense to Marvel.

Sunday 12 April 2020

Forty years ago today - April 1980.

Hooray! It's Easter!

And I'm celebrating it by totally ignoring it!

Because nothing, NOTHING, could be more important than seeing what was happening in the 1980 Marvel comics which bore the name of this month upon their covers.

Conan the Barbarian #109, the Bear God

Conan decides to beat-up a bunch of height-restricted villains who're holding a group of his friends captive...

...not realising they have an eighty-foot tall bear on their side!

Incredible Hulk #246, Captain Marvel

The Hulk's still on a quest to return Jarella's body to its rightful home and, fortunately, he has Captain Marvel around to help him.

Not that that'll stop the pair of them having a punch-up first.

Amazing Spider-Man #203, the Dazzler

Barely has the Dazzler been launched into the Marvel universe than the company tries to convince us we're interested in her, by having her team-up with Spider-Man to tackle the return of the dreaded Lightmaster.

Admittedly, "team-up," might be a wild misrepresentation, as, from what I can remember, she just blunders around being controlled by the villain.

Thor #294, the origin of Odin

At last! A huge, talking eyeball reveals to Thor the Asgard-juddering origin of Odin.

I have the idea in my head that he's cobbled together from a bunch of older Asgardians who grabbed hold of a stick which had belonged to the previous incarnation of Odin before he pegged it at Ragnarok.

X-Men #132, the Hellfire Club

The Hellfire Club may be a rip-off of a group of villains from the old Avengers TV show but it takes them little time to sort out the X-Men.

All except for Wolverine who's still alive and at liberty to stage a rescue mission from the depths of the sewers.

Avengers #194, the Vision

The only thing I can remember about this tale is we discover that, in his time away from fighting evil, Wonder Man's working as a clown in a children's TV show.

Captain Marvel #244

A zillionaire's brain's been transplanted into a stolen Life Model Decoy and now Cap has to stop it as it rampages around town looking to hurt everyone because it's not happy about looking all melty.

Fantastic Four #217, HERBIE the robot

It's the big one! HERBIE shows his true colours when he attacks the Fantastic Four.

Except it's not that simple because they're not really HERBIE's true colours. They're those of brain-in-a-bottle Dr Sun who's taken mental control of the diminutive robot.

Iron Man #133, the Hulk, Ant-Man and the Wasp

Having knocked out the Hulk, Iron Man's now trapped in his immobile armour - and his oxygen supply's running out!

There's only one thing for it.

Ant-Man has to enter that armour and repair it before it's too late in a blatant retread of the Avengers tale in which the bug-sized hero enters the Vision's body to repair it.

Spectacular Spider-Man #41, Giant-Man and Meteor Man

Black Goliath's changed his name to Giant-Man and helps Spider-Man fight the return of the rapidly growing Meteor Man.

Having said that, I'm not sure Giant-Man's any greater help in this fight than the Dazzler was in hers.

Poor old Bill. No wonder he always seemed depressed.

Thursday 9 April 2020

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

How the twisted mind of Fate works.

Just the other day, this site's comments section was alive with talk of how the band the United States knows as The English Beat are, in Britain, known purely as The Beat and had to be renamed for their US releases, to avoid confusion with an American band of the same nomenclature.

And, what do you know? Today, I find myself having to address the reverse process, as, in this week of 40 years ago, the top of the UK singles chart was claimed by the Detroit Spinners and their huge big smash hit Working My Way Back to You.

The band in question are, of course, just known as The Spinners in the States but have to be referred to by a more geographical title in the UK to avoid confusion with the British folk band of the same name.

The music business is, as we all know, a metaphorical roller coaster. But some folks don't like their roller coasters to be metaphors. They like them literal.

And, so it was that, in that week, Staffordshire's Alton Towers Resort was opened by Madame Tussauds, and the world of British theme parks would never be the same again.

Star Wars Weekly #111

This issue, Luke and Leia team up with someone called Grau who I suspect may be an Imperial stormtrooper and, together, they try to survive the automated defences of whatever world it is they're on.

Howard Chaykin's Monark Starstalker makes his Marvel UK debut, though I must confess his first appearance was one of the few comics my younger self didn't like.

Meanwhile, Deathlok's confronting a clone that contains the mind of the scientist who created our hero.

In this week's Tales of the Watcher, a space expedition encounters a race of seeming primitives and departs without ever discovering they're actually an advanced race of psychics who simply don't need technology.

I recall an episode of Star Trek being built around a similar concept.

In that one, the Federation and Klingons are trying to gain control of a planet, totally oblivious to the fact its inhabitants are by far their mental superiors and could destroy both factions with just a thought.

Doctor Who Weekly #26, Tom Baker

Information about this issue's harder to come by than usual.

However, from the cover's boast, it would appear the book has a great new look.

What that look is, I've no idea, as, to me, it looks pretty much the same as it always did.

But, of course, what we're all really interested in is the chance to win a trip to the Doctor Who Exhibition in Blackpool; an exhibition I myself had already visited.

How I recall its robot Daleks, its Sea-Devil and its stills from The Talons of Weng-Chiang, including one of Leela being attacked by a hamster.

In truth, it was a not-massively overwhelming experience, being in the modest basement of a building facing the Promenade.

But it was enterable via a replica of the TARDIS, and that had to be worth something.

I also once visited a Space: 1999 exhibition which resided no more than a hundred yards from it.

If the Doctor Who Exhibition seemed modest, that was nothing compared to the modesty of the Space: 1999 Exhibition.

Spectacular Spider-Man Weekly #370, the Punisher

My Spider-Sense tells me the Punisher's back - and firing three guns at once!

Either that, or he's just got a very shaky aim.

It would appear the Kingpin's also back.

And you know who else is back?

No. Me neither because, as is so often the case with this book, I don't have a clue what's in it beyond what's displayed on the cover.

Incredible Hulk Weekly #58

Having suddenly remembered she existed, the Hulk goes to Gamma Base or Hulkbuster Base or whatever it's called this week, to retrieve the body of Jarella.

However, I suspect Glenn Talbot and his Mandroid suit are likely to get in his way.

Elsewhere, the Black Knight and Captain Britain find themselves fighting rocky giants at the stone circle where, I believe, the captain first got his powers.

It's all action for that duo. It's a wonder they're not nervous wrecks by now.

The Silver Surfer's still out to stop the indestructible mutant who's taken over the universe.

I'm not totally sure what the Beast's up to in his strip but I do know that, in The Defenders, Valkyrie's facing her greatest foe yet; the New York college enrollment process.

And I assume Iron Man's still battling the Mandarin's Hulkbot.

Tuesday 7 April 2020

The Marvel Lucky Bag - April 1970.

I hope you like Bridge Over Troubled Water because, if you're trapped in April 1970, you're not going to be able to get away from it.

Not only is it at Number One on the UK album chart - and in the process of holding on to that position for the entire month - but its title track's also top of the British singles chart.

However, there's some respite for those who don't like pianos and epic singing, as, just one week into the month, the single's deposed from its throne, by Dana and her Eurovision winner All Kinds of Everything.

However, Dana herself clings onto the perch for just two weeks before Norman Greenbaum knocks her off it to rule the roost for the last week of April, thanks to his track Spirit in the Sky.

Meanwhile, at the cinema, our big screens are being rocked by A Man Called Horse, Colossus: The Forbin Project and Patton.

That all sounds great but the film release whose title most catches my eye is something called The Cockeyed Cowboys of Calico County which is, it seems, a comedy starring Mickey Rooney.

Limited is the information available to me about it, but I find it hard to believe it can possibly be a patch on Carry On Cowboy.

Chamber of Darkness #4

The cover helpfully tells us a monster man comes walking walking.

But we're not interested in that.

What we are interested in is that this issue features the sorcerer-smashing debut of Starr the Slayer.

Admittedly, as far as I'm aware, it also features his final appearance as well.

Starr is, of course, a fictional barbarian who sets out to kill the writer of his tales, in the belief that said author is an evil wizard.

What's most striking about Starr is his remarkable resemblance to a certain Cimmerian, which means that, this month, Marvel's published two comics which feature characters who seem like photocopies of Conan. The other being The Avengers #75, thanks to Arkon.

By an even greater twist of fate, both tales are written by Roy Thomas, while one is drawn by John Buscema and the other by Barry Smith.

How high can the coincidences pile up before it starts to look like there's some sort of plan at work?

Silver Surfer #15, the Human Torch

Is there no guest-star Stan the Man won't throw at us in an attempt to get us to read this comic?

Last month, we had Spider-Man show up and now it's the Human Torch.

Needless to say, our, "hero," moans and whinges his way through this tale, constantly lamenting the humans' habit of rushing to violence, while, himself, flying off the handle at every opportunity.

In a supreme irony, at the tale's end, the Surfer suddenly realises that, in this case, he has been the aggressor, not mankind.

No doubt, this means we've heard the last of his grizzling and that, from now on, he'll realise he's no better than the rest of us.

I mean, you'd think that'd be what'd happen...

Sub-Mariner #24, Tiger-Shark

Nothing but peril awaits when the Sub-Mariner finds himself the prisoner of Doctor Dorcas and Warlord Krang.

Who now can save Atlantis from the attack of their killer whales?

Tiger shark can!

Because, discovering the threat to the city, as he's just swimming around, minding his own business, he volunteers to protect it, on condition Lady Dorma agrees to marry him.

Can it be? Can the foul fiend be about to gain control of both Atlantis and its queen?

Rawhide Kid #75

And can it be the end of our gun-toting hero?

No, it can't. His comic still has another nine years of life left in it yet.

There's one thing you can say about the Rawhide Kid, he may be of no interest at all to me but he's a tough man to kill.

I do believe I detect a Jack Kirby cover.

Our Love Story #4, Joe Howard's Chick

I must confess I've not read this issue but, somehow, I don't feel like I need to.

I just seem to know, as though by some psychic force, that this issue will feature three stories, each of which will involve a young woman crying her eyes out over some terrible romantic dilemma before learning a valuable life lesson as she stares into the sunset.

Sunday 5 April 2020

Fifty years ago this month - April 1970.

Fifty years ago this month, humanity was left reeling, as Paul McCartney announced the end of the Beatles.

Would the world ever be the same again?

No it wouldn't.

And yet, even in that month, all was not lost for music fans. For exciting things were stirring in that field, as Elton John, the man who'd go on to be almost as big in the '70s as the Beatles had been in the '60s, had his first-ever album release in the United States.

It was, in fact, the second album he'd made but, for whatever reason, his first LP had somehow failed to find its way across the Atlantic.

Finding their way to the Pacific were the crew of Apollo 13 which, just four days after setting off for the moon, had been forced to turn round and come back when an oxygen tank exploded, threatening the survival of them all and inspiring an entire movie.

Elton John has also inspired a movie.

And he once sang a song about astronauts.

Coincidence? Or a mind-boggling twist of cunning Fate beyond human comprehension?

I shall leave you to decide upon that.

Avengers #75, Quicksilver

I do believe this is the one in which Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch scour the globe in an attempt to discover why at least one of them's lost their powers.

Inevitably, it leads to a lightning-bolt throwing Conan rip-off appearing from another dimension and threatening the survival of us all.

I hate it when that happens.

Captain America #124

I have only vague ideas about what happens in this one.

From the cover, I'm guessing it's the tale in which Captain America demands Sharon Carter quits SHIELD, as he can't tolerate the thought of her being in danger - and she tells him where to stick his concern.

Daredevil #63, the Gladiator

Genuinely, I'm the living definition of vagueness when it comes to this one.

Is it the story in which Daredevil has to fight the Gladiator, at the insistence of the Maggia

 Or am I mixing it up with a totally different, and earlier, story?

Fantastic Four #97, the Monster From the Lost Lagoon

At last! A comic whose contents I'm not in the slightest bit vague about, as Jack Kirby continues his recent habit of seemingly banging out stories in response to whatever happens to be on TV while he's drawing.

Granted, I'm assuming that's what he's doing.

This time, the FF are on their holidays and encounter the Monster from the Lost Lagoon who bears no resemblance to any creature we may have ever seen in any 1950s Hollywood movie.

Incredible Hulk #126, the Night Crawler

It's great news for any Steve Does Comics readers who can't get enough of Jack Norris, when his actions get the Hulk stranded in the world of the Undying Ones and force the green Goliath to confront the menace of the Night-Crawler.

By the end of it, the Undying Ones' plan is in tatters, Barbara Norriss is trapped, Dr Strange is free and it's anyone's guess where Jack's got to.

The Invincible Iron Man #24, the Minotaur

I'm back to the vagueness with this one. Just why does the man on the cover have a Minotaur for a son and why does he have Madame Masque strapped to a slab?

Amazing Spider-Man #83, the Schemer

I do, at least, have more than a clue about what's going on in this one.

But, then, it's a story no one could forget. Bringing an end to the book's brief run of done-in-one stories, the Schemer launches an all-out war against the Kingpin.

But who is the Schemer?

And what is his mind-boggling secret?

And why do we keep being told about the Kingpin's missing son?

Thor #175, The Fall of Asgard, Loki, marie severin cover

Help! Help! The vagueness is back!

Loki's threatening Thor, which means it could be any one of a zillion stories.

I do know we're coming to the end of Jack Kirby's run, which makes me wonder if it's the start of the tale in which Loki and Thor swap faces and Neal Adams ends up stepping in to take over the strip for a very short spell.