Thursday 30 December 2021

December 30th 1981 - 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 1981 was quiet in the fields of current affairs, music and television. Therefore, I shall plunge straight into my look at what Marvel UK was doing at the time.

Super Spider-Man TV Comic #460

It's a thrill on every page, this issue!

At least, I think it is, as I've not been able to discover what happens in it, other than it guest stars the Invisible Girl.

From this, I'm assuming it's another Marvel Team-Up tale.

I note that Marvel Team-Up #88 contains a story - featuring the villains Spencer Jarret, Jomo, Daisy, Morgan and the Maggia - that guest-stars the Invisible Girl.

I shall, therefore, assume it's the adventure we're getting here.

However, the plot details are a mystery to me.

Meanwhile, there's good news for all cowards because, this issue, we can win a pair of running shoes.

Captain America #45, Thor, Marvel UK

If I'm vague about the contents of this week's Spider-Man book, it's nothing compared to my cluelessness about the activities of Captain America.

But it does look obvious we're getting the Thor tale in which the prediction of Ragnarok seems to be coming true!

Because of this, the new Thor's convinced by Sif to team up with the real one to protect Asgard.

And readers will not be surprised to discover the neophyte Norseman pays for it with his life.

Let that be a valuable lesson to us all.

As if that's not enough, there's a full-colour poster for us, as well.

Tuesday 28 December 2021

Speak Your Brain! Part XVIII. When the Christmas songs stop.

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

The Steve Does Comics Megaphone
Image by Tumisu
from Pixabay
The year is fast approaching its end but this post hasn't even begun.

And that's because it can't.

For it has no subject matter.

And that's where you The Reader come in.

For, verily, 'tis the return of the feature that's set the internet alight. It's the one where the first person to comment gets to decide what we get to talk about.

It could cover virtually any subject: sport, art, films, books, music, mucous, fairy tales, fairy lights, fairy cakes, myth, moths, magic, murder, mystery, mayhem, sofas, sausages, eggs, whisky, broth, Garth Marenghi, Garth Brooks, Bruno Brookes, Bruno Mars, Mars Bars, wine bars, flip-flops, flim-flam, flapjacks, see-saws, flowers, flours, bread bins, bin bags, body bags, bean bags, cola, pancakes, pizzas, sci-fi, Wi-Fi, Hi-Fi, horror, sewage, saunas, suet, Silurians, Sontarans, sins, suns or sandcastles.

Only you can decide.

Saturday 25 December 2021

The 1982 UK Marvel annuals for 1981.

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

Ho ho ho, little children! Santa Steve's smashed his way out of your fireplace and he's about to fling a whole heap of annuals at the foot of your Christmas tree!

But, first, he needs to find out what's on TV, today, December the 25th of December, 1981.

In all honesty, there's nothing that could be called outstanding. It's the usual mix of sitcoms, family entertainment, and much-loved presenters who'll later turn out to be psychopaths, sociopaths and malignant narcissists.

However, should you wish to investigate the topic further, this is the 1981 Christmas Day schedule for BBC One.

This is the accompanying schedule for BBC Two.

And, for the ITV Christmas schedules, you can click right here.

Captain America Collector's Edition, 1981/1982

This seems a familiar sight. Mostly because I've already covered it in a long-ago post.

It seems that, despite being labelled a Collector's Edition, Marvel UK is marketing it as an annual.

It features the whole of Jim Steranko's run on the Captain America strip, as Cap gets nagged into hiring Rick Jones as the new Bucky. An experience Cap enjoys so much, the saga culminates in him deciding to fake his own death.

In between those two events, of course, there's an epoch-making battle to be had with the forces of Hydra and their whip-wielding female boss who'll wear any colour, so long as it's green.

X-Men Collector's Edition, 1981/1982

Meanwhile, the above book's sibling gives us a whole heap of Neal Adams goodness.

In its first tale, the titanic teens must deal with the Living Pharaoh becoming the Living Monolith.

Then they must needs stop the Sentinels from merrily rounding up the world's mutants and bumping them all off.

It's clearly not going to be a merry Christmas for that particular super-team.

Spider-Man Annual, 1981/1982

There's no controversy over whether this one's an annual or not. It even says it is on the Paul Neary drawn cover.

The book's dominated by The Wings of the Vulture! in which Blackie Drago takes over from Adrian Toomes as the Vulture and decides to prove himself by beating-up Spider-Man.

And, just to make matters worse, Kraven the Hunter shows up, as well.

We also get a ten-page text story called The Electric Sting. I don't know anything about it but, given its title, I'm going to assume the villain of the piece is either Electro or the Scorpion.

Hulk Annual, 1981/1982

Despite no longer having a weekly comic, the Hulk gets his own annual - and it sees him join forces with the mighty Mogol, as the pair assist Tyrannus in his struggle with the Mole Man.

It's all going swimmingly until the Hulk discovers his new friend's a robot and decides to murder him.

After that, we get a five-page text story called A Hostage for the Hulk.

Next up, the Leader resurrects the Glob and sends him off to pick a fight with our hero.

That's followed by another five-page text story, this time called Caged.

And, finally, Jade Jaws must tangle with Warlord Kaa the living shadow in a tale reprinted from Incredible Hulk #184.

Worzel Gummidge Annual, 1981/1982

But it's not only Marvel's comic book heroes who get special treatment this year. So do its stars of stage and screen.

And so it is that we get the book we've all been dreaming of, in The Worzel Gummidge Annual.

I could tell you what happens in it but I really can't be bothered.

Plus, I don't actually know what happens in it.

Probably, Galactus shows up and Worzel has to become his herald.

The Empire Strikes Back Annual, 1981/1982

Star The Empire Strikes Back Wars gets its second annual and does so with an Archie Goodwin, Al Williamson, Tom Palmer and Walt Simonson tale called The Crimson Forever which is followed by a Chewbacca-centered adventure called Rage in the Red Nebula.

For Your Eyes Only Annual, 1981/1982

Holy shaken-and-not-stirred, Batman! Even James Bond is granted a Marvel hardback!

And I'm going to make an inspired guess that it adapts that classic film For Your 007 Eyes Only.

It also gives us a feature on the many foes of James Bond, and one about the stunts that have made his films the legends they are.

Starburst Annual, 1981/1982

It's not an obvious publication to be granted an annual but so annual-happy is Marvel UK, right now, that we get one anyway.

In its 64 pages, Starburst supplies us with features about Saturday morning movie serials, famous robots, famous aliens, famous spaceships, fantasy females and famous monsters.

And, yes, it does feature Caroline Munro, because Starburst always features Caroline Munro.

Raiders of the Lost Ark Annual, 1981/1982

And, just to make sure Indiana Jones doesn't feel overshadowed by James Bond, he too gets his own book, which I have it on good authority adapts the movie of the same name.

So, with all that wrapped up, all that's left is for me to wish you a happy Christmas and that all your wishes come true.

Especially if you're wishing that I was a billionaire.

Merry Christmas to you all. :)

Thursday 23 December 2021

December 23rd 1981 - 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
***

It was a surprisingly quiet build-up to Christmas, forty years ago this week and, thus, the only news I have to impart is it was the week in which the Human League's Don't You Want Me? was confirmed as that year's Christmas Number One, to the surprise of no one who reads this blog, as I must have mentioned it on at least ten previous occasions.

ABBA, meanwhile, still topped the British album chart, with The Visitors.

So, in the absence of any other news, what was Marvel UK dishing up when it came to weeklies?

Captain America weekly #44, Marvel UK

Not a lot, as the company gives us just two books.

In a shocking development, Captain America celebrates Christmas by making the front of his own comic.

And, in fairness to him, he does it appropriately, by having a snowbound adventure.

If I remember rightly, this is the one in which he single-handedly lays siege to a castle, on top of a mountain, in which a young girl's being held captive, and things get more and more surreal as it goes along.

Tragically, I can say nothing of the latest adventures of Thor and Daredevil but it does seem we get a free Christmas poster this week.

Super Spider-Man TV Comic #459

By the looks of it, we're in for an epic encounter because, according to the cover, this issue features Spider-Man vs the Black Panther.

Come to think of it, off the top of my head, I don't recall ever reading a story in which Spidey meets Panthey.

I can only assume it's a Marvel Team-Up reprint. No doubt, the pair of them have to slug it out for a few pages before realising they're fighting the wrong man and then uniting to tackle their true foe who's probably Klaw because it always is when T'Challa's around.

As with Captain America's book, we get a free poster.

I wouldn't get excited, though, as it's just a still from the TV show and isn't even an action shot. And, despite the claim that it's a Christmas poster, there's nothing remotely Christmassy about it.

More excitingly, this issue, grants us the chance to win five Raiders of the Lost Ark annuals.

Tuesday 21 December 2021

Speak Your Brain! Part XVII. Why are we here? Why???

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

The Steve Does Comics Megaphone
Image by Tumisu
from Pixabay
Wait!

What's that?

Upon the roof of my house?

It can only be the sound of Noddy Holder's reindeer. And I've already left mince pies out for Roy Wood - and for Cliff, his little helper.

It's true. The most magical time of the year shall soon be upon us.

But it is not yet that date.

Thus it is that today's topic of conversation could be about Christmas or it could be about anything.

That anything might be sport, art, films, books, music, fairy tales, fairy lights, fairy cakes, myth, moths, magic, murder, mystery, mayhem, sofas, sausages, eggs, whisky, broth, Garth Marenghi, Garth Brooks, Bruno Brookes, Bruno Mars, Mars Bars, flip-flops, flim-flam, see-saws, flowers, flours, bread bins, bin bags, body bags, bean bags, cola, pancakes, pizzas, sci-fi, Wi-Fi, Hi-Fi, horror, sewage, saunas, suet, Silurians, Sontarans, sins or sandcastles.

It can only mean one thing.

That it's time, once more, for the return of the internet's most talked-about feature.

The one in which I invite you the reader to decide upon the subject of the day.

Feel free to do so.

In the comments section below.

Sunday 19 December 2021

2000 AD - November 1983.

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

Sometimes in life, you don't have to go looking for horror. The horror just leaps out at you.

And, even though I haven't seen it, I'm absolutely certain that's what happened in easily the most promising-sounding film unleashed in November 1983.

That film was Amityville 3-D.

Could that house cause any more trouble than it already had?

It seemed it could.

And add a whole new dimension to it!

Then again, according to Wikipedia, it starred Meg Ryan. In which case, I have seen it.

I just can't remember anything about it.

Nor did I see it in 3-D.

That was, of course, a classic in the making but that month also saw the first appearance of two more nightmarish movies.

The first was The Day After which premiered on ABC and dealt with the grim aftermath of a nuclear war.

The second was The Smurfs and the Magic Flute which aired in the cinema and featured the grim aftermath of the Smurfs.

Those little blue men famously had a UK Number Two hit, in June 1978, with the Smurf Song.

But there was no sign of them on the British singles chart in November 1983.

Instead, its top spot was hogged, all month, by Billy Joel's Four Seasons/Ravel mash-up known to the world as Uptown Girl.

Over on the equivalent album chart, November kicked off with Lionel Richie's Can't Slow Down on top, before that was replaced by Culture Club's Colour by Numbers. However, at the month's very death, that was supplanted by Duran Duran's Seven and The Ragged Tiger which smashed straight in at the pinnacle.

But what of the galaxy's greatest comic? How was it planning to combat such rivals for our pocket money?

It was planning to do it by giving us more of our old favourites, such as Judge Dredd, Sláine, Nemesis, Strontium Dog and Rogue Trooper.

So old-favouritey was it that it would appear no new strips appeared that month.

Meanwhile, Tharg's Future Shocks was nowhere to be found. Surely, the biggest shock of them all.

I do note that Sláine was still messing about with the Bride of Crom.

2000AD prog #341, Slaine

2000AD prog #342, Judge Dredd

2000AD prog #343, Nemesis

2000AD prog #344, Rogue Trooper

Thursday 16 December 2021

December 16th 1981 - 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
***

It was a case of no change on the UK singles chart, forty years ago this week, as the Human League again survived the challenge of Cliff, to retain the Number One spot, with Don't You Want Me?

But of course we wanted them.

And you know who else we wanted?

ABBA.

And that was beyond all doubt because, on the British album chart, their LP The Visitors had just smashed straight in at the very top. The sensational Swedes may have reached the twilight of their career, having run out of bandmates to marry and divorce but that wasn't going to stop them.

Yet.

Marvel Classics Comics #7, UK

Gasp, as the UK version of Marvel Classics Comics #7 hits the newsagents of Britain.

Though just what it is we're gasping at, I've no idea, as I can't unearth a single bit of information about it on the whole of the internet.

I'm sure it's magnificent, though.

Super Spider-Man TV Comic #458

Things get sci-fi when Spidey teams up with the Guardians of the Galaxy in a tale written by Chris Claremont and drawn by Bob McLeod.

I can say little of what happens in it, other than it involves Spidey chasing after Nikki who's in a taxi.

Elsewhere, we get a full-colour pin-up featuring Iron Man (as drawn by George Tuska) and Spider-Man (as drawn by John Romita).

And, in an example of how times have changed, the back cover gives us the chance to buy some bullets as lucky talismans, for £1.95 each. Somehow, I can't see them letting children buy bullets these days.

But, for those who don't want to festoon themselves with ammo, there is, apparently, the chance to win a copy of Heroes of the Spaceways.

I don't have a clue what that is.

I shall use the power of Googlé to see if I can find out.

I have now Googled.

It seems there was a 1981 book of that name by a man called Bill Harry which covered such characters as Barbarella, Quatermass, Flash Gordon, Doctor Who and a whole slew of others.

I shall assume that's what we're being given the opportunity to win.

Captain America #43, Thor vs Hela

Speaking of me being clueless, what Daredevil's up to, this week, is anyone's guess.

As are the activities of Captain America.

From the cover, however, it's obvious we've reached that point where Thor's still mithering about the creation of the New Thor, and Loki's sentenced to the Place of Punishment for his role in launching Ragnarok. 

Meanwhile, the aforementioned New Thor takes Sif to a distant land, to make her his queen.

And, if that doesn't sound like action enough, it also turns out Hela and her horde of Trolls are preparing to storm the rainbow bridge.

Blimey. Thor's going to need a holiday after all that lot.

Tuesday 14 December 2021

The Marvel Lucky Bag - December 1981.

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

Sometimes in life, it's the troublemakers you want to spend time with, rather than the responsible people.

And this month in 1981 was a perfect example.

After all, it saw the release of a whole heap of respectable movies, such as On Golden Pond, Reds, Pennies from Heaven and Chariots of Fire.

But I can't deny it. From that December, the film I most want to see is a thing which bears the splendid title Dawn of the Mummy. I've never heard of it before but Wikipedia tells me it was confiscated in the UK, under Section 3 of the Obscene Publications Act 1959, during the, "Video Nasty," panic.

If that doesn't recommend it to the discerning viewer, I don't know what would.

Epic Illustrated #9

Epic's back to plant another 100 pages of creator created magic slap-bang in front of us.

This time, it's dominated by a mammoth-sized saga called Metamorphosis Odyssey, as brought to us by jaunty Jim Starlin.

Not content with even that, we also get The Last Centaur by Tim Conrad who brings us this issue's cover, as well.

Then we get Charles Vess' Children of the Stars.

Followed by The Dragonmaster of Klarn: A Game the Gods Play, from Doug Moench and John Buscema.

Next up, it's the Dave Kasakove text piece Tales of Torment: Horror-fantasy from the Underground.

And, now, Match & Set from Lee Marrs which I'm going to assume involves tennis.

And we close with Craig Russell's not very cheery-sounding Isolation & Illusion.

Amazing Spider-Man Annual #15, Dr Octopus

Everyone's favourite spider man gets his fifteenth annual.

And, in it, he and the Punisher must unite against the deadly menace of Dr Octopus.

That's followed by a three-page feature which asks Just How Strong Is...Spider-Man?

That's followed by a one-page feature showing us Peter Parker's apartment.

And we finish off with a gallery of Spider-Man's most famous foes.

Except none of them are that famous. It's mostly made up of people like Man-Wolf and the Tarantula.

What If? #30, Spider-Man's clone had lived?

It's the question we've all wanted answering; "What would have happened if Spider-Man's clone had lived?"

Don't ask me why but I've a feeling it would have led to a two-year-long crossover involving dozens and dozens of issues and would be universally popular with fans and attract no flack whatsoever.

I wonder if that's the conclusion this issue comes to?

But hold on to your hats because we get another treat in this book.

And that's the story of how the Inhumans moved the Great Refuge to the Himalayas.

Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends #1, the Green Goblin

You've seen the cartoon. Now read the book!

It's true. Spidey gets yet another title, as he, Iceman and Fire-Star all move in together and have buddytastic adventures.

So, it's basically like Friends but with homicidal super-villains thrown in.

According to the Grand Comics Database; this issue, the Green Goblin busts up a college costume party, to steal his secret Goblin Formula.

I don't know what that means.

Why does a college costume party have his secret Goblin Formula?

And why does he not have it?

And can he not make some more?

Dazzler #10, Galactus

It's the meeting that had to happen, as Dazzler takes on the might of Galactus!

Does she end up becoming his herald? Or am I just going mad?

Marvel Team-Up #112, Spider-Man and King Kull

If the meeting of Dazzler and Galactus seemed unlikely, we now get an even unlikelier one, when Spider-Man teams up with King Kull.

I don't have a clue how this comes about.

Then again, he did also once team up with Red Sonja. So, anything's possible.

Maybe Kull's spirit takes possession of Flash Thompson, or something.

Bizarre Adventures #29, Lawnmower Man

Here's an odd occurrence, as Marvel gives us its adaptation of The Lawnmower Man, as relayed to us by Stephen King himself and Walt Simonson.

I can pass no judgment upon the merits of the project, as I haven't read it and haven't even seen the later film.

But I do know that, also, in this issue, we get tales with names like My Uncle, the Vampire, The Vampire Excursion and Mirror, Mirror.

It all sounds terrifying.

Sunday 12 December 2021

Forty years ago today - December 1981.

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

Weep for me, dear Reader.  For there is no Doctor Who on the telly tonight.

But who needs TV?

Not me. I have the covers of old comics to obsess over.

The Avengers #214, Ghost Rider

Johnny Blaze is in a sulk because he's lost his title as the world's greatest stunt rider.

So, he takes the logical course of action and decides to try and kill his old friend the Angel.

Somehow, this attracts the attention of the world's preeminent super-team.

And that can only mean one thing.

Fisticuffs.

Fisticuffs that go surprisingly poorly for them until they finally get their bottoms in gear.

Captain America #264

I vaguely recall this involves a villain warping reality to create a dystopian version of America that Cap finds himself stuck right in the middle of.

Amazing Spider-Man #223, the Red Ghost and his Apes

The Red Ghost and his Super-Apes try to steal some formula or other from the university but, of course, Spider-Man quickly thwarts that plan.

I remember this tale involves Peter Parker trying to help a socially awkward student fit in, in a rare outbreak of empathetic behaviour from Peter.

Spectacular Spider-Man #61, Moonstone

All I know about this one is that Moonstone's back.

I think she might be out to rebuild her reputation, after recent failures, in order to secure more lucrative mercenary work in future.

As it's his mag, I would assume that brings her into contact with Spider-Man.

And not in a way that's good for her.

Thor #314, the Destroyer

Thor takes on the Destroyer!

But, this time, it's not that Destroyer!

It's Drax the Destroyer who, in his frustration at not having a Thanos to fight, decides to get himself killed by attacking a bunch of deadly aliens.

Unfortunately, that plan instantly hits the buffers when one of them gets stuck to this head and takes control of him.

Fortunately, the god of thunder's around to sort it all out.

X-Men #153, Emma Frost vs Storm

Emma Frost is still occupying Storm's body - and vice versa - as the villainess battles to overcome the X-Men.

Fantastic Four #237

Maybe it's just me but this one's a blatant rewrite of issue #24's The Infant Terrible.

This time it's a female alien who visits our world and is accompanied by a gang of criminals aiming to take advantage of the chaos she causes.

Happily, we have a Mr Fantastic available to deduct that she's simply drunk on the Earth's atmosphere, and to promptly restore her to her normal, sober state.

Iron Man #152, the Living Laser

Having infiltrated an East German military base, the ferrous Avenger has to spend the entire issue battling the Living Laser who manages to fire a laser straight through both Iron Man's armour and his arm.

Fortunately, as it does so, it cauterises the wound. And, so - we're told - it does no damage.

I'm no doctor but I'm not sure you can shoot big holes in people and it does no damage, even if the wound is cauterised.

Conan the Barbarian #129

Conan's still battling those revived corpses, in order to beat some kind of Chinese sorcerer.

You may have noticed my knowledge of this one's a little sketchy.

Daredevil #177

It's a very odd story in which DD recruits his old mentor Stick to teach him how to regain his lost radar sense.

As far as I can remember, that task involves our hero having to fight an imaginary dragon. Don't ask me why.

Elsewhere, the Kingpin's decided its time to do something about the non-stop nuisance that is Elektra.

Incredible Hulk #266, the High Evolutionary

Not only is Drax out to commit suicide, this month, so is the High Evolutionary. But because he's not physically capable of doing so, he decides to provoke the Hulk into killing him.

Thursday 9 December 2021

December 9th 1981 - 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
***

Don't you want me, baby?

Forty years ago, this week, we certainly did because Britain had just received its Christmas Number One for 1981, thanks to the Human League's song of that name, which had hit the top spot by seeing-off the humongous challenge of Cliff Richard's Daddy's Home.

This was, of course, a near-miracle, as Cliff is virtually the living embodiment of Christmas.

Not that we knew, right then, that the League were going to be the Christmas Number One, as it was only the second week of the month, and we weren't psychic.

Over on the British album chart, it was less-precise fare which held sway, as Chart Hits '81 by my favourite act of all time - Various Artists - hit the top of the charts.

Various Artists have had so many hit albums. Why does no one ever talk about them when discussing the greatest bands of all time? Have Various Artists been labouring in vain for all these decades?

And what about Trad? He's written so many famous songs and yet he's all but forgotten!

As for the singles chart, these are the tracks I approved of on that week's Top 75:

Bedsitter - Soft Cell

It Must Be Love - Madness

Under Pressure - Queen and David Bowie

Cambodia - Kim Wilde

I Go to Sleep - The Pretenders

The Lunatics (Have Taken Over the Asylum) - Fun Boy Three

The Voice - Ultravox

The Land of Make Believe - Bucks Fizz

Joan of Arc - Orchestral Manoeuvres in The Dark

Never in A Million Years - The Boomtown Rats

Labelled with Love - Squeeze

Waiting on A Friend - The Rolling Stones

and

A Good Year for The Roses - Elvis Costello.

If you wish to pursue matters further, that week's UK singles chart can be found here:


while that week's album chart resides here: 


Super Spider-Man TV comic #457

I don't know much about the contents of this one but it would appear Spidey has to save the president.

From what? I cannot even venture to guess.

If he does, though, surely it can only help him in his quest to get the law enforcement agencies off his back.

It seems we can also win Kodak instant cameras, which is exciting.

Marvel Classics Comics #6, Treasure Island

Shiver me timbers! If it's not a 48-page adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic pirate tale, as interpreted by Bill Mantlo and Dino Castrillo.

Captain America #42, Marvel UK, Daredevil

Now what's a man without fear supposed to do?

Not only has Foggy suddenly gone blind, so has half of New York!

It's all the fault of the Smasher, and Daredevil enlists a group of blind folks to help him thwart the villain.

Elsewhere, Thor's confronting Loki, as the god of mischief goes on about Ragnarok and what it'll involve.

And, on Earth, Cap's still up against the wheelchair-bound menace of Deathwatcher.