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.


Timothy Field said...

Steve, can I compliment you on your comparatively encyclopedic knowledge of this week's Star Wars issue. I too recall thinking Monark Starstalker being a bit pants.

Anonymous said...

Monark Starstalker was great, a kid-friendly - well, Comics Code approved - intro to the distinctive worldview of the mighty Howard Victor Chaykin.

Pretty sure that issue of Doctor Who Weekly marks the end of the Star Beast storyline Steve (I suppose you didn't want to chance it again ;).
With the back up strip also coming to an end you'd think it would have made more sense to go for a new look and relaunch with the next issue. Although like yourself, I don't really see whats so new about it.
The only thing that springs to mind is thats (I think) the first time some of Dave Gibbons artwork actually appeared on the cover.


dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

Well I can happily report that my ubercool twin brother Mike is no more. I followed Sean's suggestion and put Mountain Jam on repeat for three days. When I went down there he was on the floor. I'm pretty sure it was him and not a mannequin in a pool of quinacridone red.

I had a dream in which we met up in a dodgy businessman's club in Berlin. He gave me the big talk. You know, the whole Black Knight Senior, Uncle Ben, Superman's Dad in a crystal spiel. And he managed to persuade me to honour his memory by donning the Artistic Actuary costume and doing whatever artistic actuaries do. I never be as cool as he was but nobody will notice when I'm in costume.

Part of me is worried that everyone will know I'm the artistic actuary. His identity is supposed to be a secret. Then I remember that dangermash's identity is also a secret, so that shouldn’t be a problem.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

UK Mates - Isn't Blackpool famous for a pier or something? You guys would go there for a summer holiday? I thought you mentioned this maybe a year ago? Like they tore down the pier?

Charlie Horse 47 said...

As far as Silver Surfer goes, is the mutant really taking over the universe? Or is it just a galaxy, and by extension the Universe, a la Ming in "Flash Gordon Saves the Universe." This could make a difference if I try to find this on ebay. I'm more of a "whole universe" kind of guy.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the new Artistic Actuary dangermash. Everything we thought we knew about the SteveDoesComics Universe has changed forever!
(Although being no more doesn't mean the original won't try to make a comeback. You want to watch out for that)


Anonymous said...

* obviously that should be "Congrats on BEING the new Artistic Actuary".


Steve W. said...

Charlie, Blackpool has three piers, all still standing. It's Brighton that only had one pier and it burned down. Blackpool's engineering claim to fame is the Blackpool Tower, a Victorian Eiffel Tower copycat which used to have a circus and a zoo in its base and currently contains a legendary ballroom.

I'm pretty sure the indestructible mutant has taken over the whole universe. What the likes of Galactus were doing while all this was going on is anyone's guess.

Sean, it's a great source of relief to me that The Star-Beast is finally over, even though I still don't have a clue what it was about.

Thanks, Tim. And thanks for agreeing with me about Monark Starstalker.

I think we should all pause for a moment to mourn the passing of the original Artistic Actuary. He died so we could all... ...actually, I'm not sure why he died but I'm sure it was a noble sacrifice.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry Steve, I expect the original Artistic Actuary - or possibly a clone thereof - will make a senses shattering return at some point.
True believers will demand it.


Anonymous said...

Happy Easter to one and all :)

Steve W. said...

Happy Easter to you too, Colin.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Happy Easter to you too Colin, Steve... and Mike Murdoch the Actuary.

Anonymous said...

Steve, I loved that issue of the Defenders where Val applies to college. Years later I would find out to my great dismay that Kraft was accurately describing what is a harrowing process.
As my brother might say, getting your class schedule filled with the classes you need is "about as easy as shoving a hot stick of butter up a bobcat's ass." I still have nightmares about it. Seriously, in the nightmare I don't know where or when my classes are and I haven't been going for half the semester. Sometimes I have no pants on.
I don't know what this actuary business is about and I don't wanna know. Don't tell me. It's been a long day.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

MP - you crazy bastard! Charlie had that nightmare two nights ago! Seriously! But his pants were on.

After reading your comments he was really afraid he would have it again tonight.

Fortunately the BBC America came to his rescue!

They were showing Goldfinger and he paid particular attention to Pussy Galore! (So did I!) SO... here's hoping Charlie goes to sleep tonight thinking of... well... you get it. And here's hoping his pants stay on!

Thank you BBC! You guys Rock!

Anonymous said...

Charlie, I have that nightmare about twice a week. The other recurrent nightmare I have is that I've reenlisted in the Army and my discharge papers are overdue.
Charlie, I hope you're keeping away from people. Nothing to do with the virus, I just hope you're keeping away from people.


Redartz said...

Happy Easter gang!

That Spiderman/Punisher tale was actually pretty good.

Charlie- oh man, you've got to love "Goldfinger". Best Bond film? Maybe, maybe...

M.P.- that Defenders arc with Val in college was a winner. Dollar Bill, Ledge and Lunatik, if memory serves...

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

They had.a repeat of Goldfinger on in the U.K. the other day. James Bond is clunked on the head in the kitchen. He recovers. Staggers .to the bedroom. Finds the dead woman on the bed. I'm getting ready to show off my Sean Connery impressions to the kids. "She's covered in paint - gold paint." As you do. Bond calls reception. "She's covered in paint..." and they stop for an ad break. When they come back, I'm waiting for the " paint" but it never comes. They're on to the next scene.

I didn't stick around long enough to see whether they went the whole way with "Do expect me to talk?" "No.".

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...
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dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

The influence of Goldfinger can be seen even today.

Any talk of people being sucked out of plane windows is referred to as "doing a Goldfinger"

If a firm has spent loads of money on a meeting room where someone can sit at a control panel and do things like lower the blinds, make projection screens come down from the ceiling or make wall panels recede to make the room bigger, that room always needs to be referred to as "The Goldfinger Room".

And anyone that asks "Do you expect me to....." has to be answered with "Noooooooo Mr Xxxxx- I expect you to die!"

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Doggone DatAA

That's the same lines I was laughing at last night... "Do you expect me to talk?"

But my fav line was Bond, having been knocked out by a tranquilizer gun, meets Pussy Galore on Goldfinger's private plane when he awakes from his slumber and sees her looming over him. “Who are you?” he asks. “My name is Pussy Galore.” To which Bond replies, “I must be dreaming.”

But the BBC did butcher the heck out of it, with commercial brakes every 5 minutes it seemed.

Anonymous said...

None of the women can resist Bond, can they?
So it was nice to read in a recent obit that because Honor Blackman was a republican (not in the current American sense of the term, obviously) she refused a CBE, and slagged Connery for accepting a knighthood.
Good for her.


Anonymous said...

Redartz, I believe it's criminal that Dollar Bill has been so underused. He was essentially a '70's half-ass hippie burnout who lived on grass and junk food and talked like Stan Lee.
Like Jeffery Lebowski, he was a man of his times.
It's hard to imagine him in another era, but I wouldn't be surprised if he ended up working on Wall Street in the '80's.
In grad school I knew a guy very much like Dollar Bill. Beard, sunglasses, everything. He wore sandals and he kept talking about "paradigms", whatever that means.
God bless that goofball.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, I could definitely see the appropriately named Dollar Bill on Wall Street in the 80s M.P. Not to mention being a reality tv star in the twenty-first century, and possibly even President.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Ah, Monark Starstalker! That, and the Nick Fury story he did with Jim Starlin a month or two later were what turned me on to Chaykin’s work. About ten years ago, he was at Wondercon in San Francisco — I found NM copies of those two stories (CHEAP) and had him sign them for me. He was all, ‘God, not THOSE crappy things!’ I diplomatically told him ‘I’m not gonna be that guy who tells you your old stuff was better, it’s just that these two books were my first Chaykin comics, and so they’re my favorites.’ He grudgingly accepted that explanation and signed em.