Thursday 15 October 2020

October 15th, 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.


This week in 1980 saw two memorable things happen in the world of British politics.

One was that Margaret Thatcher declared she wasn't for turning.

The other was that Jim Callaghan declared he wasn't for staying. The former prime minister quit his post as leader of the Labour Pary, after having lost the 1979 election.

In retrospect, it seems surprising it took him a full 18 months to get round to doing it but, then, he's the man who helped Captains Britain and America defeat the Red Skull. So, he clearly wasn't a man to give up easily.

Marvel Team-Up #5, The Falcon and Spider-Man

Hooray! Spider-Man teams up with the Falcon, though who the deadly menace is who's forced them to unite, I've no idea.

Similarly, I've not got a clue who anybody else in this issue's up against.

I do know Morbius the Living Vampire has a strip of his own, because the cover tells me so.

I am, however, intrigued by that cover's boast that this issue features, "Imaginary action with Spidey."

Hold on. Does this mean all his other adventures are true?

Failing that, I can only assume it means there's a What If? story involved.

Spider-Man and Hulk Weekly #397

Spider-Man's just discovered the Vulture's the mystery villain who's in the process of taking over all of New York's gangs.

Unfortunately, the information's not likely to do the web-spinner any good, as he's now wrapped in chains and on a conveyor belt that's about to deliver him to a fiery furnace of doom.

Meanwhile, the Hulk and 3-D Man are in the process of smashing-up Uncle Chuck's house.

Frankly, Uncle Chuck only has himself to blame for being the one who invited Bruce Banner into his house and then setting 3-D Man on him. Clearly, this was not the best thought-out plan of all time.

This week's activities of She-Hulk and Spider-Woman are a mystery to me.

Forces in Combat #23, The Golem

I don't know anything about this week's contents but the Golem makes the front cover, which is nice for him.

Empire Strikes Back Weekly #138

Leia and the droids find themselves on a planet filled with delightful butterflies.

But is one of them a hostile shape-shifter sent to spy on them, by Darth Vader?

Elsewhere, thanks to Neal Adams' pencils, Killraven's out to get to the man we know only as The Keeper. But, first, he has to fight his way past a pair of hostile mutants.

And there's yet more of Marvel's adaptation of the first Star Wars movie. Luke Skywalker's just bought himself a brand new droid called R2-D2. But now it's gone AWOL and he has to set off in search of it.

Can it be that it's seeking out old Ben Kenobi?

And for what purpose?


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Given last week, we saw Spidey crawling between a Smiling Thor's legs, on can only imagine what imaginary action we're in for.

Philip - just curious - do you literally have all these books sitting in boxes in your garage? Are they bagged or are they not worth the cost of bagging?

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Hate to not understand but what does it mean that Thatcher was not for turning? Like she wasn't for "turning japanese" or something or what?

Anonymous said...

Charlie - these ones aren't bagged; some of the US ones are! "Turning" refers to a political U-turn. Right - let's get down to business...

First, Team-up # 5. The inside cover is already plugging next week's issue (getting a bit ahead of yourself, Paul Neary!) More importantly, it's plugging 2 new weekly comics - 'Valour' & 'Future Tense' !

Spider-man & the Falcon. Glory Grant is being attacked by 3 young toughs, with glazed eyes (no this isn't a Claremont story), two thirds of whom have tyre irons. Spidey goes easy on them, but the third tough pulls a gun, so Spidey takes the kid-gloves off! In the end Glory Grant takes out the tough, with a karate chop she learned at the YWCA! Glory wants Spidey to keep quiet about it all, because one of the toughs is her cousin. For once, the glazed eyes aren't caused by hypnosis, but by....drugs (we're dealing with big social issues now!) The villain who drugged Glory's cousin is a racist called the Gold Man (Goldbug, Midas, who knows?), who hangs out at a club called 'The Hot Spot'. Spidey is angry & heads over there. Glory rings the Falcon - some show of confidence! Next week, who bets the heroes have a mistaken fight, then make up, afterwards?

Ms.Marvel - not much happens. Carol passes out in Jameson's arms. Later, she transforms to Ms.Marvel, and a mysterious camera is watching her!

In the What If "imaginary Spider-man story", Spidey becomes ab agent to superheroes, making Daredevil wear a funny outfit, with a trident!

In the Fantastic Four, in the Antarctic, the Thing starts laughing at all the little black aliens, because they're so small, whereupon they all combine themselves into a black, Hulk-like creature & clobber Ben (kind of like Madrox the Multiple Man, in reverse!) Reed declares the aliens are plastoid robots; and Johnny says that means it's okay to destroy them! I don't think Johnny will be on Machine Man's Christmas card list! The robots turn into a giant black Manta & attack Johnny. Sue makes a force bubble to sink underwater, beneath the giant crystal. How? If the force bubble's filled with air, it wouldn't sink!

Jack of Hearts gets Hemlock angry by destroying his prize flowers. Hemlock tries to cut open Jack's armour, and it explodes, finishing him off. Jack throws a Jack of Hearts card down, next to Hemlock's body, as a "calling card". He's nicked this idea from Moonknight, with his crescent discs!

In Morbius, the girl Morbius has been hypnotized to attack in the limousine, zaps him with eye beams, then transforms into a woman wearing pretty much the same Gil Kane outfit seen on the Kull cover, for 'Forces in Combat' # 22. Kane must work from stock pictures. Inevitably, the two start fighting - the final outcome is next week!


Anonymous said...

Spider-man & Hulk Weekly # 397.

The Vulture's secret mob-boss rival is a black mobster, who lifts heavy weights & does Karate (no - it's not Glory Grant!) The Vulture's nephew overcomes Spidey with gas - spidey hangs a light on this, by declaring how daft he is, seeing as Belladonna used the same trick so recently. Just as Spidey is heading on a conveyor belt into a furnace, the Vulture arrives to gloat!

The Hulk - the 3-D Man emerges from his own brother (who enters a trance for this to happen) & is his brother's wife's old flame. Does this count as bigamy? The Hulk is about to finish giving the 3-D Man a pasting, when the wife arrives to plead for both her men, whereupon the Hulk jumps off, to find Rick Jones (Sean vomits). Interestingly, in this brief tale, the Hulk lists his side-kicks. We never mentioned Krakajack Jackson, did we?

She-Hulk - my memory was flawed - the She-Hulk & Iron Man's fight is inconclusive. They go to find the She-Hulk robot, to clear her name. When they find the head, Iron Man/Tony declared he made it, some time ago...What?

Spider-woman - first Werewolf by Night strangles Spider-woman into unconsciousness, then she subdues him with a venom blast! Spider-woman then flies off to Morgan Le Fay's lair, carrying Werewolf by Night. How is this possible? Spider-woman's only got glider wings; she can only fly downwards, not carry heavy weights upwards! It's worse than Sue Storm's force bubble going underwater! Morgan Le Fay learns Werewolf by Night hasn't got the occult book, but she can extract it from his mind, as Jack Russell has read it! Magnus's astral form emerges & he & Morgan have a fight - it turns out he's her mentor! Merlin, perhaps - who knows?

Forces in Combat # 22 - Fury beats the Japanese leader - lots of racist tropes - the American navy starts shelling the island - Dum Dum Duggan's long Johns up a flag pole save the day. Izzy Cohen has been taken to Tokyo, so that plot is still there for next week.

In Rom, the Dire Wraiths have a high council. Sister Sweet tells the leader that the Dire Wraith who pretended to be a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent is no good; so the shadowy leader of the high council (a bit like chairman Zeus on 'the Committee', in 'Airwolf') feeds him to a winged black monster called 'Deathwing.' No, we're not in the Fanastic Four, with Johnny Storm!

In Machine Man, the goon who stole Machine Man's arm sells it to Madam Menace, armourer to the Underworld. She intends to make an army of Machine Men. Oh, we learn Machine Man was built to be a super soldier for the US army - how many times have we had that before?

We've got adverts plugging Savage Action Monthly - great stuff!

In the Golem, some seagulls transform into air-demons, wanting to capture the Golem for Kaballa the Unclean!

In Kull, Kull uses the axe Ridondo the minstrel threw him to kill the monster, but he doesn't manage to save Lorkar the beast man, who remain dead. Kull mourns him. The minstrel sings a song at the end, complete with lyrics. Rick Jones isn't the only one who can't turn a tune, Sean!

In Rawhide Kid, the Kid breaks Spade Desmond's hypnotic control, with that old trope, you can't hypnotize someone to do something they wouldn't do anyway - yeah...right!



Anonymous said...

I meant Iron Man & She-Hulk are trying to clear She-Hulk's name, not clear the She-Hulk robot of the murder - that really would be bizarre!


Anonymous said...

an agent - not ab agent!


Anonymous said...

It was a reference to the Thatcher government being urged to make a policy U-turn Charlie, to which she said she wasn't for turning. Basically they were going to stick with their crazy economic "ideas" no matter how many millions of people they put out of work, and how severely it deepened the recession.

Funny to be discussing Thatcher's first full year in power forty years on, while living through Boris Johnson's. The English, eh? Will they ever learn?

Anyway, as this is SteveDoesComics, and not SteveDoesLoonyLeft-wingBollocks (you can have that name for free if you decide to do another blog again, Steve) -
I remember that Neal Adams Killraven story from when Marvel UK reprinted it once before. Somewhat surprised you managed to resist the urge to bring up the subject of apes Steve...


Anonymous said...

Phillip, I'm guessing Hemlock was a super-villain?

If the Jack of Hearts was going to nick anything from other superheroes he'd have been well-advised to start with a more sensible costume imo, before worrying about accessories like calling cards or whatever.


Anonymous said...

Sean - yes, Hemlock was a world's greatest assassin-type villain.

As regards Jack's costume, I think it's something about millionaire heroes who inherit the family company - look at Night Hawk's costume!


Steve W. said...

Phillip, that was a truly epic summary. Thank you for it.

Sean, you don't know how hard I had to fight myself to get me not to mention ape heads.

Charlie, I suspect that Margaret Thatcher's quip, "U-turn if U want to. This lady's not for turning," is remembered because it was the only known instance of her ever cracking a joke.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Ok... you UK guys are going to groan b/c I am going to appear dense.

When Thatcher says "This lady's not for turning" is that a sort of joke in that "lady is not for turning 'tricks'" as in a "hooker turns tricks?"

As I type this I am listening to the UK's "Now that's What I call music #10" 2-CD compilation from like 1987? I must have been in London visiting my bro.

Man that dude in the House Martins could sing in that song "Build!"

Steve W. said...

Charlie, it just means she's not willing to change course.

Anonymous said...

I thought the Jack of Hearts had a very cool costume, cool concept, but they didn't seem to know what to do with the guy.
Lordy how they did try, trotting him out in Iron Man, Hulk and the Defenders, trying to drum up some enthusiasm.
The problem is, at the end of the day, all you got is a guy who flies around shooting rays out of his hands. Like Nova.
There didn't seem to be much of a backstory, like a hook or an angle that would make him interesting. Then again, I'm not sure Spider-Man would have caught on if he had been introduced in 1977.
That costume was great, though! It had the Royal Flush Gang's costumes beat all to hell.


Anonymous said...

Thats a fair point M.P. How many comics with new characters - not counting licensed or public domain - caught on in the 70s, enough to keeping their own title going past #20? There was Howard the Duck, Luke Cage, Kamandi and, er... um...
Well, you can count 'em on one hand probably.

The Jack of Hearts was still a bit rubbish though.
His costume looked like it could have been designed by Jim Lee or Rob Liefeld. Sure, you could say that made him ahead of his time, but when that time in super-hero comics is the 90s thats hardly a plus.


Anonymous said...

Just looked up the Jack of Hearts online -
Created by Bill Mantlo and Keith Giffen. That says it all really.


Anonymous said...

Well, Sean, Wolverine, obviously, but he's the exception who makes the rule.
We're talking about characters from Marvel Comics from the '70's who are still popular, right?
Uh, Luke Cage, Thanos, Adam Warlock (when he stopped being Him)
I guess you could put in Mantis? She was in the movies. It seems the original Guardians showed up in '69, so they don't count.
Drax was from the '70's, and maybe Starlord too.
Oh, and Blade! That guy had three movies.
I'd be hard pressed to come up with any others.


Anonymous said...

Seems any Marvel character is going to do well as a film property in the 21st century M.P. - or at least it did pre-covid - but I meant new ones catching on back then, following on from your (likely correct imo) theory that Spider-Man might well not have been a success had he been new in 1977.
I assumed you were making a point about the newstand comic book biz being in decline during the 70s.

Wolverine might have been created earlier, but he didn't catch on broadly til the 80s - had he been launched in his own book in '75 its hard to see it lasting long; as it is, even with the familiar brand name the all-new all-different X-Men took some time to find an audience (it didn't even go monthly til sometime in '78).


Anonymous said...

Geez, when it comes to which characters are popular in the comic books now, I don't have the first clue.
I just assumed the characters in the movies are the ones that are selling in the comics.
It's like an unholy alliance! The comics became ads for movies, they got co-opted!
That started with Star Wars, I think.


Colin Jones said...

Thatcher's actual words were something like:

"And to those people urging me to do that popular media catch-phrase the U-turn, I have only one thing to say: You turn if you want to - the lady's not for turning".

This famous Thatcher soundbite was uttered during her speech to the 1980 Conservative party conference and it's a pun on "The Lady's Not For BURNING", a play from the 1940s. I don't know if Thatcher had ever heard of the play - in 1989 Thatcher's Tory conference speech included a joke involving Monty Python's dead parrot sketch but many years later her speechwriter, Michael Dobbs, revealed that Maggie had never heard of Monty Python. The geriatric Tory delegates had probably never heard of Monty Python either.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

My two-bit theory is that there are only so many origins available for comic-book characters. Eventually, you're just retreading the same ideas.

Just look at the fun had with the Legion of Superheroes in the 1960s when they would have periodic auditions for those who wanted to join the Legion. I vaguely recall a few passing the auditions and becoming member (Bouncing Boy?) with the majority being rejected.

Point being I have to assume the folks at DC were out of ideas as was the House of Ideas by the later 1960s and the Legion Auditions are sort of a parody of that. Had they been able to come up with a good idea in the Legion Auditions that person would have been added to the Legion.

That being said, though the focus here is Marvel, did any Legion characters really go on to have successful solo mags besides Superboy? (Use Sean's criteria of 20 or more issues.)

Charlie Horse 47 said...

And, looking at what Sean and MP wrote above, I have a hunch that since kids don't read comics anymore, I would think Marvel and DC are free to use film as a virgin territory to introduce the "powers" and have them assigned to whichever character they want, first, for their own purposes.

E.g., to a young kid, he will assume the first character he sees in a movie is the one who is entitled to those powers and then every hero after that is going to be a "variation on a theme."

Or, riddle me this... If Marvel introduced Jack of Hearts in a movie a few decades ago, prior to its other characters, would Jack be popular with the kids today? Would his comics be trading at multiples? (Or are Spidey, Iron Man, and Cap simply the gold-standard of comics and it trumps everything else regardless if they were rolled out in 1990?)

We'll never know but...

(Sean - The Dingbats deserve a movie!)

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Geeze, now that I think about it, didn't the Legion of Superheroes not only have auditions where you could be invited to join the Legion but there was even a "back up / reserve" Legion you could be invited to join if you had decent powers?

And then, failing that, you would be invited to join the Dingbats.

That said, I think the Legion had a "Karate Kid" which hardly seemed in the same category as Monel, Lightning Boy, or Shrinking Lass. I mean, I can't see how Karate Kid would even make the Reserve Legion.

Point being I think DC actually had a cool idea going to use all those heroes they thought of yet probably knew would not get much traction in their own book by having try outs, or putting them in the Legion Reserve.

IIRC I think readers would submit / vote on the characters in the auditions?

Anonymous said...

Hmmm - in Marvel in the 1970s, several new characters went way beyond 20 issues. Iron Fist, Shang-Chi & Ms.Marvel, to name a few. Iron Fist's traction was greater than Jack of Hearts, or Nova, because of Daniel Rand's backstory (Meacham, K'un Lun, etc.)

We mustn't dismiss Jack of Hearts too quickly, though. On closer consideration, thinking back on Jack's classic battle with the Hulk (Sal & Ernie Chan/Tom Palmer), he had one novel twist. The zero fluid, despite giving Jack of Hearts incredible power, was also slowly killing him - so, he was a desperado, of sorts, there being no cure. Off hand, I can't think of another hero with that baked into their origin. More could have been made of this, but I think the writers lost interest in it, later on. Eventually, Jack turned into yet another cosmic being.

In Spider-woman's battle with Werewolf by Night, she could have sustained a bite, in order to get her strength to increase with the waxing of the moon - it worked for Moonknight, when he tangled with Jack Russell!


Redartz said...

Charlie- I can't think of any Legion solo books offhand. But regarding their associations- there was the Legion of Substitute Heroes as well. Some who couldn't rate even the Reserve Legion. My favorite is "Infectious Lass". Don't ask...

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I think you mentioned that before, Phil (or somebody did) what a nice run on the Hulk that was when Ernie was inking Sal. I dug it!
I know some people here are less than crazy about Sal, and I admit, he did tend to repeat himself a lot, but give the guy a good inker and you got a good-looking comic, IMO.
And thought I Jack was a cool character, it's just they never seemed to find an angle for him.
I also dig a lotta those 70's Marvel characters who never quite made it to prime time, like Deathlok, Son of Satan and Moonknight. They had an edginess to them because the writers were younger. Different generation. And they probably smoked a lotta pot.
And the Comics Code got slacker! They could call Zuvembies Zombies. (I remember thinking, "what the heck is a Zuvembie?")
Yep, '70's Marvel was pretty wild and wooly.

"Infectious Lass"...?
I think I might have gone to high school with her.


Anonymous said...

You've got a whole Infectious Legion in the US these days M.P.
Not that its any different here. Where I am we're now in "tier 2" restrictions today. What does this government take us for - Northerners?

Just kidding - hope everyone's well.

And if you ask me, Kirby and Ditko did wilder stuff than this "edgier" younger generation of 70s (alleged) dope smokers.


Anonymous said...

I think my brother could have joined the Legion as a replacement for Matter-Eater Lad.


Anonymous said...

M.P. - ROM vs Jack of Hearts was good, too - also with Sal. I got it, aged 10, at Leeds Boar Lane 'Rathskellar-style' comics shop. The cover was by Michael Golden, showing ROM & Jack squaring off, in space, above the Earth - I had to get it!

A while back, Charlie initiated a debate about which characters could survive the rigours of space, unprotected - well, Jack of Hearts falls into this category. ROM flew out of the Earth's atmosphere, into space (like the Surfer, fleeing the Torch), and Jack of Hearts went straight up after him! ROM trained his energy analyzer on Jack, and it revealed he was made of pure energy (hence, high degree of invulnerability). ROM assumed Jack of Hearts was a Dire Wraith threat, and used his neutralizer on him with lethal force (something ROM rarely did). I seem to remember the neutralizer ruptured Jack's armour, resulting in a massive explosion (like Hemlock, but worse).

I then seem to remember ROM regretted what he'd done, and got Jack of Hearts to safety.

Moonknight & Deathlok - definitely edgy - also Doug Moench a factor common to both.


Killdumpster said...

Could you imagine if Jack Of Hearts & 3-D Man teamed up? The colorist would be ready for a padded cell after that issue!

There was one issue of Legion Of Super Heroes that shocked me. The team was fighting a giant robot/computer and it grabbed one of Triplicate-Girl(?)'s "clones". All the heroes seemed dismayed, but she just laughed it off at the end of the book and started calling herself "Duo-Damsel". That was kind of weird, but that book usually was.

Killdumpster said...

Forgot to mention the robot vaporized her.

Anonymous said...

That was weird, wasn't it. I saw that somewhere. Imagine if you had the power to split yourself in three (a dubious power at best; you're gonna spend a lot more on beer) and one of your triplicate selves gets murdered.
So, like, is a third of you dead now? Hardly something to laugh off.
That would be about time for a one-way ticket to the funny farm, in my opinion.

...and, this is where Sean says "M.P. probably already has his ticket"...


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Steve - I think that among your fan club there is a bit of interest in the Legion bubbling up! Any chance you read a Legion story in your youth that you can review for us?

I know... I know.. you probably are still in the doldrums b/c the International Conkers Championships was called off due to Covid. But there's always next year.

OF greater concern, I'm sure for you, is that the Snooker championships might be postponed again this coming spring?

Steve W. said...

Charlie, I've done quite a few LSH reviews over the years, including the marriage of Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel ( ) but I shall see what I can rustle up.