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Sunday, 31 January 2021

Wanted: The World's Most Dangerous Villains #8

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

Wanted: The World's Most Dangerous Villains #8, the Flash and Dr FateBecause DC Comics never had the sense to launch DC UK and reprint, in weekly form, every scrap of material they had, few were the chances for 1970s me to delve into the company's history.

However, there were occasional opportunities.

One such was the existence of their 100-page books.

Another was their mighty publication Secret Origins.

And another was Wanted, a comic I only ever owned one issue of. 

That issue was #8. It featured the Flash and Dr Fate and, way back then, I was highly fond of it.

But what of now?

Will reading it for the first time in approximately 40 years rekindle that thrill of old?

In a tale from 1960, when the Flash kiboshes Captain Cold's hope of freedom, by testifying against him at a parole board meeting, the crime-happy captain decides to break out of prison and gain revenge upon the scarlet speedster.

Well, no, in fact, he doesn't.

Rather less logically, he decides to break out of prison and ask the Flash's girlfriend Iris West to marry him.

Wanted: The World's Most Dangerous Villains #8

As far as I can make out, this is the first time any mention's ever been made of a potential romance between the pair. Also, she too testified against him at his parole hearing, so his hope of getting her consent seems a little presumptuous.

Iris, of course, informs him she wouldn't marry him if he was the last man on Earth, at which point he reacts in the way spurned men have always done throughout history, and instantly freezes everyone in Central City, apart from him and Iris.

Wanted: The World's Most Dangerous Villains #8
It's at this point the Flash shows up, breaks into the city, through the ice dome that now surrounds it, and sets about foiling the frosty felon.

I could claim it's an epic battle but the Flash has an answer to every challenge his foe flings at him. Glaciers can't stop him. Illusions can't stop him. Slippery patches can't stop him. And, thus, Captain Cold is soon unconscious and on his way back to prison.

It's not what you could call a tense adventure. The Flash seems all but unthwartable and suffers no ill-effects from either his exposure to mega-cold temperatures or even to headbutting his way through ice as hard as diamonds. He also manages to unfreeze the entire town, in an instant, with one press of a button.

Wanted: The World's Most Dangerous Villains #8
This does all make me question just where writer John Broome studied science. For instance, we're told, at one point, that intense cold can create mirages, which is not a thing I've ever heard before.

Regardless of such concerns, it's a pleasant, stress-free, tale and the combination of Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson on art is clean, unfussy, and even stylish in places. Basically, it's not for the demanding but, thankfully, I'm really not that demanding. I do, after all, have the mind of an eight-year-old.

Our second tale, from 1941, involves Dr Fate, a hero I must confess to knowing almost nothing about, even though I've read a number of comics that have included him. I've basically always seen him as just being a man in a helmet.

His problem, right now, is the gang of criminal mastermind Mr Who keeps stealing precious items such as paintings and diamonds.

Wanted: The World's Most Dangerous Villains #8
We discover that Mr Who was once a weedy, crippled child who, thanks to his invention Solution Z, is now fit, strong and able to perform such feats as expositing, growing to giant-size, laughing a lot and turning invisible.

If the Flash tale felt tension-free, it's got nothing on this one, as writer Gardner Fox makes it clear that neither Mr Who nor Dr Fate is capable of being harmed or killed by anything that exists. Well, that's us kept us on the edge of our seats.

Anyway, having gatecrashed the villain's latest robbery, Dr Fate disposes of him by flinging him through the bottom of a boat and into the sea before declaring that's the end of him.

How he knows that's the end of him, I've no idea. There seems no reason to think it is. Frankly, it seems almost as presumptuous as Captain Cold's belief that Iris West would be willing to marry him.

It's a fairly throwaway tale and competently drawn by Howard Sherman but, despite an appealing villain who I hope returned at some point, it doesn't stand out from the norm.

So, do I now love this comic as much as I did as a kid?

No. But I do appreciate its light breeziness and refusal to perturb me. A lack of perturbance should never be underestimated in this world.

Thursday, 28 January 2021

January 28th, 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.

***

Forty years ago this week, Britain's Social Democratic Party was founded when MPs Shirley Williams, Roy Jenkins, Bill Rodgers and David Owen quit the Labour Party and sailed their ship into brand new political waters.

But none of that mattered, because what really mattered was that, on this evening, in 1981, BBC One saw the return of Triangle, the show that set out to match the glamour and intrigue of Dallas and Dynasty, by putting Kate O'Mara on a North Sea Ferry and keeping her there.

Spider-Man and Hulk Weekly #412, Daredevil vs Hulk

The Hulk's on the rampage - and only Daredevil can stop him!

Well, no, obviously, he can't. Consequently, the crimson crime-fighter gets knocked from pillar to post and is lucky to still be alive at the end of it all.

It would appear Spidey's up against the return of the aliens who were once friends of the Tinkerer but now call Mysterio their only friend.

As She-Hulk is, allegedly, involved in a space saga, I shall assume this means she's in alliance with the Man-Wolf who is also claimed to be in this issue.

Future Tense and Forces in Combat #13, ROM

Mourn ye not for Future Tense and Forces in Combat, for they still survive as a brand new title destined to, surely, set the world of comics alight for many years to come.

That may be the hope but Future Me knows this new hybrid lasts for just one issue.

And this is it.

If that cover's to be believed, ROM and his friends seem to have joined the Nazi Party, which is a twist I didn't see coming.

In a mega-flashback, we learn the Dire Wraiths were defeated on ROM's home planet but he spurned the chance to return to normal life, so that he might fight the fiends on whatever worlds they may be found.

There's a new adventure for the Star Trek gang, as they're tasked with transporting various aliens to the prison planet Thallus.

But is everything as it seems?

The Micronauts are still up against a computer that can make other computers obey it.

Elsewhere, a Scotsman descended from a caveman is haunted by visions of a beautiful woman from the distant past. He doesn't know what's going on and neither do I.

And, on Counter-Earth, the Man-Beast is busy trying to get Warlock to side with him in a tale which sees Tom Sutton pencil, appealingly, over John Buscema's layouts.

Valour #13, Conan the Barbarian

This week's first page is eagerly hyping the imminent arrival of the Dazzler to the pages of Marvel UK. An event that, I'm sure, none of us can wait for.

As we can see from the cover, Conan's out to rescue the lovely Livia from the Vale of Lost Women and has to beat a big red monster to do it.

We get a tale of Tyndall the Elf which all seems a bit too Hobbity for my liking.

Dr Strange is fighting another dimension's sorcerer supreme, in his ongoing attempt to rescue Wong from her clutches.

Meanwhile, Clea's slowly turning into a gargoyle.

In Devil-Dinosaur, Moon-Boy's people are relying on a T-Rex to come up with a plan for defeating alien invaders. I'm not sure such creatures are famous for their strategic thinking.

In Thor's strip, the Asgardians are worried about what's happened to Odin who's managed to disappear without a trace.

Personally, I'd have thought they'd be celebrating.

Team-Up #20

Spider-Man and the Beast are up against it and up against the Modular Man and Killer Shrike.

Elsewhere, we get adventures for the Fantastic Four, Ant-Man and Morbius but I couldn't say for certain what those adventures actually are.

I do suspect, though, that the FF are still trying to stop those pesky space Vikings at the North Pole.

On the back cover, Superman's trying to stop smoking.

Or, at least, he's trying to stop us from smoking, by warning us of the menace posed by that dastardly fiend Nick O'Teen.

Sunday, 24 January 2021

2000 AD's 1982 annuals for 1983.

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

As Sean pointed out in the comments section for my most recent look at 2000 AD; when I composed that post, I totally missed the chance to include the appropriate annuals for the 1982/1983 period.

As far as I can make out, there were two of them, one for the parent title and one for its most popular offspring. Below are they.

But, first, Christmas Day isn't just for annuals. It's for TV. So, what were we watching on the idiot box as we were reading those titanic tomes?

On BBC One, we were, indisputably, watching the Top of the Pops Christmas Special, hosted by those spokesmen for British youth, Peter Powell, John Peel, Dave Lee Travis, Steve Wright, Andy Peebles, Richard Skinner, Tommy Vance and Mike Smith, all presenting their favourite hits of 1982. Not to mention Mike Read's look back at the year's Number Ones.

On the same channel, the Queen read out her speech, at 3 o'clock, followed by International Velvet whose horsie nature would, no doubt, have appealed to her.

The early evening gave us Paul Daniels' Magic Show, Last of the Summer Wine, The Two Ronnies, Death on the Nile, Perry Como, and Charles Dickens' The Signal-Man.

Not that I'm totally uncultured but I must confess that, until now, I never knew that tale was by Dickens. I always assumed it to have been by Henry or MR James, as these things always seemed to be.

BBC Two, early evening, gave us 25 Years in Space, The Millionairess, The Queen's Speech, The World of James Joyce and the movie Fedora. The latter of which I remember watching at the time.

ITV, meanwhile, launched us into Christmas Day with Journey Back to Oz which was some sort of cartoon, Andy Williams' Christmas Special, The Parent Trap and The Black Hole, ultimately closing down with Christmas at Radio GOSH.

Not to be forgotten, Channel 4 gave us such treats as Caesar and Cleopatra, Buster Keaton's The Navigator, St Mark's Gospel, Upstairs Downstairs and that star of car parks Richard III.

2000 AD annual 1983

The main annual gives us 128 pages of sci-fi goodness from Strontium Dog, Nemesis, Tharg's Future Shocks, Ro-Busters, Rogue Trooper, The Mean Arena, Harlem Heroes, Ace Trucking Co, Ro-Jaws, M.A.C.H. 1, Invasion and, inescapably, Judge Dredd.

While most of the strips seem to be new, the presence of some of 2000 AD's original stars may tip you off that a small number of these tales are reprints from the very early days of the comic.

Judge Dredd annual 1983

The Judge Dredd annual has, by contrast, just 96 pages and, as you'd probably guess, appears to revolve entirely around all things Dredd, including a solo adventure for Max Normal.

Amongst other gems, we get the tale of a hotel that's killing its guests, Dredd's battle to prevent a gang from selling comics to children, and the good judge's battle against fleas.

Again, although most of the tales are new, there are a couple of reprints thrown in.

Perhaps most crucially of all, the book also asks the vital question, "Could you survive a holiday in Mega-City One?"

To which I think the only sensible answer must be, "No."

Thursday, 21 January 2021

January 21st, 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.
***
Readers of this blog may be able to go back in time with this feature but in this week in 1981, everyone could suddenly go back in time.

That's because it was the week in which the first DeLorean car, as made famous by Back to the Future, rolled off a production line in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland. From that point on, Hollywood (and rock and roll) history would never be the same again.

Speaking of rock and roll, the top of the UK singles chart was still being held tight by John Lennon's Imagine.

However, the top of the album chart saw a change, as ABBA's Super Trouper was finally forced to make way for Adam and the Ants' Kings of the Wild Frontier.

Spider-Man and Hulk Weekly #411, Hulk vs Thor


Thor and the Hulk are still battling.

Spider-Man and the Smuggler are still battling.

Admittedly, when I say, "battling," Spidey has the villain beaten, and trussed-up like a turkey but is fearful of him escaping, even though the adventurous arachnid had no huge difficulty defeating him in the first place.

It would also appear we get a brand new style of Daredevil inside.

I'm not sure what that means but it sounds exciting.

Marvel Team-Up #19, Spider-Man and Black Widow

All I know of this one is Spider-Man and the Black Widow are teaming-up to thwart the evil machinations of the Owl.

The cover blurb tells us a new Fantastic Four story begins inside but I'm willing to make an educated guess they're still fighting the space Vikings they were up against last week.

Forces in Combat #37, ROM

It's the last ever issue of the mag that bought us more rough-housing than you can shake a stick at, and Marvel UK somehow manages to make its demise sound like an achievement.

All I know about this ish is ROM's been captured by Project Safeguard, a governmental initiative for dealing with alien first-contacts. One that's been infiltrated and taken over by Dire Wraiths!

At least it hasn't been taken over by Dire Straits.

Future Tense #11, Adam Warlock

Just to make sure Forces in Combat doesn't feel lonely, Future Tense is also celebrating its final issue.

It does so, fittingly, by concluding Marvel's adaptation of the first Star Trek movie.

The Micronauts are up to something which involves a barn and a computer that takes over other computers, or something.

There's some sort of tale about a caveman, and a woman with claws on her feet.

And, last, but definitely most, Adam Warlock sees-off the threat of a talking pigeon, only to be led into a trap by a man he believes to be a prophet but who is, instead, the dreaded Man-Beast in the most unfeasible rubber mask ever!

Will the golden grappler escape this nightmare peril?

I suspect we may have to wait a while to find out.

Valour #12, Dr Strange

As the cover makes clear, Dr Strange is still trying to rescue Wong from the clutches of another dimension's sorcerer supreme.

Conan's still trying to rescue an inhabitant of the Vale of Lost Women.

Devil Dinosaur teams up with some cavemen to tackle the giant aliens who are abducting other dinosaurs and cavemen for nefarious purposes.

And Thor concludes his battle with a youthful giant, having now come to realise that, in life, he should rely upon his wits as much as brute force.

Sunday, 17 January 2021

2000 AD - December 1982.

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

***

History was made in December 1982 when ABBA gave their last-ever public performance, on the BBC's Late Late Breakfast Show.

Some of us can still remember watching it, and many have highlighted the band's clear awkwardness, while being interviewed by Noel Edmonds, as proof of the internal divisions within the band but, then again, I remember every interview Noel Edmonds ever did on that show being painfully awkward.

But it wasn't the only historical event going on, because, also in that month, we got a taste of the future, when Time magazine's Man of the Year award was, for the first time ever, given to a non-human.

That non-human was the computer.

Which computer, Wikipedia doesn't tell me, so I shall assume they meant every computer, even mine, which was rubbish. So, well done to my Commodore VIC-20 for winning Man of the Year.

Over in the cinemas, we were ignoring this technological threat to our award-winning chances and burying our faces in both popcorn and the following: 48 Hrs, Gandhi, Airplane II, The Dark Crystal and Tootsie. To be honest, I'm not too keen on any of those films but, if given a choice, I'd opt for Airplane II because I'm shallow.

Over on the UK singles chart, December launched with the Jam's final single Beat Surrender gripping the highest of the high ground. Could the recently defuncted band hold on and take the highly prestigious Christmas Number One spot?

No, they couldn't. For, just as it seemed they might triumph, they were pipped to it by Renée and Renato who snatched that prize from them with the genuinely ridiculous Save Your Love.

And, with that one move, the Christmas Number One spot suddenly became a whole lot less prestigious.

Things were far less silly on the British album chart where, serenely, The John Lennon Collection reigned supreme for the whole month. 

But what of the galaxy's greatest comic? Just how was it preparing for Christmas?

It was still giving us Robo-Hunter, Harry Twenty on the High Rock, Judge Dredd and Rogue Trooper, while Tharg's Future Shocks now seems to have been re-titled Tharg's Time Twisters.

Less typically, Prog 296 gave us a strip called Homer the Barbarian of which I know nothing, while Ace Trucking Co vanished after Prog 293.

And I see that Prog 293 promised us the chance to win a video game that would talk to us, and Prog 294 gave us a review of E.T.

What more could a man demand in life?

2000 AD Prog 293, Tharg

2000 AD Prog 294, Judge Dredd

2000 AD Prog 295, Judge Dredd

2000 AD Prog 296, Judge Dredd

Thursday, 14 January 2021

January 14th, 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.

***

You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one because this week in 1981 saw John Lennon hit the top of the UK singles chart, thanks to his venerable track Imagine.

But what was that at Number Two?

Why, it was Adam and his cheeky Ants with Ant Music. Could a new musical phenom be about to assert itself upon this brave new decade?

Not on the UK album chart, it couldn't, as, yet again, ABBA were still sitting pretty, thanks to their seemingly invulnerable LP Super Trouper.

Valour #11, Devil Dinosaur

Moon-Boy and Devil Dinosaur find themselves up against hostile aliens - and it's not going well.

Dr Strange is still trying to rescue Wong and Clea from another dimension's sorcerer supreme.

King Arthur's battling to rescue Guinevere from the Prince of Darkness - and chops the blighter's head off, which you would have thought should mean mission accomplished but I have a feeling it won't be.

Conan's in the Vale of Lost Women and having to rescue one of them. Whether he gives the other lost women a map and directions to the bus stop, I have no idea.

And, finally, in this week's tale of Asgard, a youthful Thor's getting bashed about by a youthful giant, thanks to his reckless over-reliance on his youthful hammer.

That is why I never place too much faith in my hammer.

I rely on my Black & Decker Workmate.

Thor would get into so much less trouble if he took a Black & Decker Workmate with him into battle.

Spider-Man and Hulk Weekly #410, the Smuggler

Mere days ago, I was talking about the Smuggler appearing in Spidey's American book. And here is in his British one.

Not only that but it looks like the Hulk's scrap with Thor, that I talked about in Sunday's post, is also reprinted here.

Rather less topically, Daredevil's still trying to prevent the Beetle and Gladiator from gaining control of a train.

Forces in Combat #36, ROM

ROM would appear to be fighting the American airforce on a rather appealing cover that, nonetheless, probably needs to give us a closer view of the battling 'bot.

That is all I know of this issue and its contents.

Future Tense #11, Micronauts vs Molecule Man

Mr Spock discovers V'ger's looking for the answer to life, the universe and everything.

Biotron's up against the Molecule Man, who's a noticeable step up from the quality of foe the Micronauts have been confronting lately.

On Counter-Earth, Warlock argues with the High Evolutionary about whether the planet should be destroyed, before going on to fight an evil pigeon.

The Man-Wolf is clearly sending his best agents on these missions.

Team-Up #18, Fantastic Four

The Fantastic Four must contend with those dreaded space Vikings at the North Pole. You know, there are times when writing these posts starts to feel like Groundhog Day.

Elsewhere, we find out what would have happened had Aunt May gained spider powers.

And the real Spider-Man teams up with the Black Widow in a story that may or may not be the one in which she's lost her memory and thinks she's a schoolteacher.

Tuesday, 12 January 2021

The Marvel Lucky Bag - January 1981.

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

In January 1981, a trip to your local cinema was clearly more fun than a trip to your local seaside.

And that's because the month saw the release of Blood Beach, a nightmarish film in which people can't get to the sea because a creature beneath the sand keeps eating them. 

As if that wasn't bad enough, even those who stayed away from the beaches were still doomed because their heads were busy exploding in Scanners which also came out that month.

Still - on the lighter side - the theatres were no doubt being packed by people keen to see the movie The Incredible Shrinking Woman which was, apparently, a comedy.

But not a comedy I've ever previously encountered.

Master of Kung-Fu #96, Shang-Chi

You have to hand it to Shang-Chi. The martial arts craze may have died-out years ago but his comic doesn't care. It's still going strong.

And it's giving us all-blue covers of the kind we can't fail to notice!

Apparently, this month, the maestro's co-opted by the CIA to find their agent Carter.

I'm assuming that's not Sharon Carter.
Man-Thing #8, Captain Fate

I vaguely recall once reading a story in which the Man-Thing encounters a bunch of pirates from space. But, as I read that in a late 1970s issue of Planet of the Apes, I'm assuming this isn't it.

I do wonder, though, if it's the same set of pirates?

From what I can gather, in this one, Sheriff Daltry's cursed to take Captain Fate's place on his ghost ship.

I don't have a clue who Sheriff Daltry is.

Or who Captain Fate is.

Or if he's now cursed to take Daltry's place as local sheriff.

ROM #14, The Mad Thinker

This is more like it. Forget all that Dire Wraith and Neutralizer rubbish. This time, ROM gets to grapple with the Mad Thinker and his Awesome Android.

It's strange the things that strike me as I'm composing these posts, as I suddenly, randomly, have the need to discover if the Awesome Android has ever fought Dragon-Man.

Regardless of that, it seems this issue's not totally devoid of Dire Wraith action, as somebody's about to marry someone else, unaware he's been replaced by one of those dastardly villains.

Spidey Super Stories #50, She-Hulk and the Rhino

Spidey's most-neglected book's now managed to clock-up fifty issues, which is a serious achievement, bearing in mind it looks rubbish.

This one seems a bit more promising than usual, though, as, if that cover's to be believed, it sees the savage She-Hulk square up against the Rhino.

Sadly, I can offer no further details as to what happens within.

Crazy #70, Super Special

For no noticeable reason, this month, Crazy gets to double its page count and be labelled a Super Special.

Granted, it's not that special, as it seems to be composed entirely of reprints.

Inside, we're treated to parodies of The Towering Inferno, day-time television, Saturday morning television, Richard Nixon (via the medium of Peanuts), human body language, the music industry and commercials.

We're also given the tale of how escaped mooses created the foundations of the British Empire.

Marvel Spotlight #10, Captain Universe

Captain Universe is up to whatever it is Captain Universe does.

That is all the wisdom I can impart, upon the topic.

Moon Knight #3

Moon Knight tackles the Midnight Man who would appear to be some sort of art thief.

Again, I've picked this one because it has a striking cover, rather than because I have any actual knowledge of the contents.

Sunday, 10 January 2021

Forty years ago today - January 1981.

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

The year 2021 pushes on as we march into that realm which was once the future.

But, right now, it's the past which interests us.

A past that is packed with incident, heroics and villainy.

Avengers #203

And also packed with bafflingness, as the Beast and Wonder Man get lost in the middle of town and discover a colony of artificial organisms living in the sewers.

Although the organisms are friendly, the locals think they're evil and attack them, causing their destruction.

Then it turns out it all never happened. Or possibly it did. Or possibly it didn't.

Or something.

Anyone who can explain this tale is a better reviewer than I am.

Conan the Barbarian #118

Years after he threw her into a sewer, Conan re-encounters Jenna the not-so-trustworthy good-time girl from Rogues in the House.

Sadly, she's succumbed to a form of deadly leprosy inflicted by an evil sorcerer from space.

And he's been doing it to loads of people.

Needless to say, Conan gives him the stabbing he's asking for, and Jenna gets her good health back.

Daredevil #168, Elektra

Elektra makes her stab-happy debut, as we're given a flashback to Matt Murdock's college days and his and her romance.

You know the one. The one in which he showed her his super-powers and went on a mission to rescue her kidnapped father.

But, of course, we don't need a flashback to it because we all remember it from when it was in Origins of Marvel Comics.

Oh. Wait. Hold on. For some reason, none of this was mentioned in Origins of Marvel Comics.

I blame Stan Lee.

Fantastic Four #226

Finally having got done with fighting space Vikings, the FF are back in civilisation and having to stop a rampant robot that's under the control of some evil person or other.

I think this is all here to wrap up a storyline from whatever that cancelled series was about the people with the giant Japanese robots.

Incredible Hulk #255, Thor

The Hulk's back in town, and Don Blake decides only Thor can stop him - and prove, at last, which of them is the stronger.

Except he doesn't. The fight comes to an abrupt halt when Thor decides it's more important he prevents a road tunnel from collapsing and the Hulk gets bored and leaves.

Spectacular Spider-Man #50, Aliens

It's a very special day for some of us, when the Tinkerer's alien allies reappear.

Except, this time, they're not working for the Tinkerer. They're working with Mysterio.

I hope this isn't one of those tales which claims they're not real aliens and are just men dressed up, because that is a reality I refuse to accept.

As far as I can recall, we also get to meet Aunt May's new fiance who, for once, isn't a man with mechanical arms.

X-Men #141, Days of Future Past

It's the far and distant future.

Probably 1995 or something.

And mutants have been hunted to near-extinction, by the Sentinels.

Needless to say, our heroes do the obvious and send Kitty Pryde back to the present, in order to halt the sequence of events which created the apocalyptical world she knows.

Captain America #253, Baron Blood

Captain America's back in England.

And Baron Blood's back from the dead!

It may be a tale stuffed with inaccurate portrayals of Britain (do village bobbies really investigate serial killings?) but it's still a tale it's impossible to not love.

Thor #303

When Thor helps save a priest and his church from destruction at the hands of local gangsters, the priest rediscovers his faith in the Christian God, even though you would have thought it would merely give him faith in Norse gods.

Iron Man #142

Hooray! We get to see Iron Man's brand new space-armour when someone with a satellite death-rays a small town into oblivion, and Shell Head goes to investigate.

But what's this? When he gets into space, that satellite turns out to have the word Roxxon written on the side of it, in gigantic letters?

Amazing Spider-Man #212, Hydro-Man

Thanks to last issue's scrap between Spidey and Subby, a sailor's now turned into the unstoppable Hydro-Man, a villain who is to water what Flint Marko is to sand.

How can our hero stop such a being?

And does it involve heat?

At least it doesn't involve a vacuum cleaner, so the baddie's one up on Marko.

Thursday, 7 January 2021

January 7th, 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.
***

Forty years ago this week, Europe drew that little bit closer, as Greece joined the then European Economic Community. Clearly, nothing could halt the inevitable growth of the European Union. Nothing!

Back in Britain, a lengthy manhunt finally ended with the arrest of serial killer the Yorkshire Ripper.

Rather more cheerily, BBC Two's adaptation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy began transmission. It later received the Royal Television Society's award for Most Original Programme of the Year.

Over on the UK singles chart, John Lennon snatched the Number One spot, with Imagine, and was also at Number Two, with Happy Xmas (War is Over).

ABBA, meanwhile, continued their dominance of the British album chart, thanks to Super Trouper.

Titans Pocket Book #3, Iron Man and Captain America

Unless I miss my guess, this issue, we see Iron Man battle the hordes of Attuma, and we get the origin of the Red Skull.

But it seems we're also treated to the occasion when Iron Man travelled back in time and met Cleopatra, thanks to the pencils of dashing Don Heck.

Just what this week's Thor story involves, I have no idea.

Star Heroes Pocket Book #10, the X-Men

Here's a turn-up for the books, as the X-Men get their own series in a publication that's supposed to be dedicated to space-faring protagonists, which the original X-Men are, most assuredly, not.

It's also surprising because the adventures of the original X-Men are already being reprinted in Marvel Superheroes.

With the New X-Men also present in Rampage, it means the world's dashingest mutants now have three strips in the pages of Marvel UK's publications.

One can only assume they're proving popular with readers.

Incredible Hulk Pocket Book #3, Tyrannus

Hooray! The Hulk has his first encounter with Tyrannus, continuing the tradition of Marvel's heroes encountering underground menaces, in their early issues.

Sadly, that's all I know of the contents of this book but it's a hundred pages long, so it's clearly packed with Hulky goodness.

Chiller Pocket Book #10, Man-Thing

I only know two things about this issue.

One. The Man-Thing's in it.

Two. The back cover features an advert for a Star Wars wristwatch.

I like to think that's all we need to know about any book to convince us to buy it.

Conan the Barbarian Pocket Book #3

I've no doubt at all that this issue contains the whodunit tale in which Conan and a bunch of supporting characters find themselves trapped in a big house, overnight, with a mystery killer who turns out to be a snake with a human head.

It's escaped from an ancient bowl and only our hero can stop it.

Not only that but this issue contains Devil-Wings Over Shadizar which is one of those titles that lodges in your brain forever, even if you can't actually recall what happens in it.

Fantastic Four Pocket Book #10, Ronan the Accuser

Ronan the Accuser makes his judicial debut, as the Kree set out to punish the fantabulous foursome for destroying their Sentry and his secret base.

Ronan may be big news in outer space but the FF soon teach him who's boss.

Spider-Man Pocket Book #10, Dr Octopus

Dr Octopus is back and, somehow, Betty Brant's brother's got himself tangled in his tentacular machinations.

It can only end in tragedy.

And it does.

And, because of it, Betty turns against Spider-Man.

Which is bad news for Peter Parker whose love-interest she currently is.

Young Romance Pocket Book #3?


This is an odd one because I can't find a copy of the cover to Young Romance Pocket Book #3 anywhere online.

Needless to say, I can't unearth any information about its contents, either.

I'm starting to wonder if it has ever even existed.

If it does exist, I'm confident it features various attractive young women sobbing over the current state of their love life.

Doctor Who Magazine #48, State of Decay

This month, the mag looks at the show's latest serial State of Decay which, I think, is the one about space vampires in a big castle that's really a spaceship.

It also looks back at The Talons of Weng-Chiang, the series' Victorian adventure which not only gave us a giant rat but inspired a 1980s band to call itself Wang Chung.

But the issue kicks off with an article investigating claims Doctor Who's too frightening for a young audience.

After that, we get a two-page look at some of the show's monsters.

We're also supplied with a report on the previous month's Marvel Convention, at which, it seems, many people from the show were present.

This month's comic strips are Dreamers of Death which sees the departure of Sharon, and Touchdown on Denab-738 which features K-9 in solo action.

Rampage Monthly #31, the X-Men

Magneto's holding the X-Men prisoner in his base beneath the Antarctic - and now he's causing trouble in Australia.

Luke Cage is involved in a tale called Jingle Bombs which threatens to ruin the Christmas of everyone in New York.

And the Thing and Thor unite to tackle someone called Seth who I have a suspicion may be the Egyptian god Set.

The Empire Strikes Back #142

I'm afraid to say the contents of this one are a mystery beyond my solving.

An even greater mystery is why it claims to be from December 1981 when it's from January 1981.
Frantic #11

Frantic takes some sort of look at Kiss, a band that, at this point, I only knew of thanks to their appearances in Marvel mags. Just as I only knew of the Harlem Globetrotters through their appearances in Scooby-Doo.

It would also seem to be satirising Buck Rogers, a show that, surely, had its tongue so far embedded in its cheek that it was beyond parody.

Starburst #29, Battle Beyond the Stars

Hooray! We get info about Battle Beyond the Stars which, despite its title, didn't take place beyond the stars at all. It has to be the most misleading film title since Neverending Story.

We also get a look at John Carpenter's The Fog, and the Starburst Fantasy Awards.

Just who wins those awards, I could not say. I suspect it depends on whether The Empire Strikes Back is counted as Fantasy.

Savage Action #3, Moon Knight

Moon Knight's discovered who's stolen a statue, and arranges to buy it.

I must confess to not knowing just what it's a statue of but have no doubt it's vitally important and I'm getting a Maltese Falcon vibe about it all.

Night Raven, meanwhile, is investigating just how come a bunch of leading politicians has suddenly become senile.

And the Man-Thing is up to something in a Jim Starlin drawn tale called Among the Great Divide.

Marvel Superheroes #369, the Avengers

This is it. The Big One. We get the origin of Michael Korvac. An origin which involves both the Badoon and the home base of Galactus, and you can't say that about many origins.

Not only that but we get an investigation into just who's killed the Collector.

Elsewhere, the original X-Men are still having trouble with Sauron.

But not, it seems, for long, as the ptalking pterosaur plunges to his doom.

Or does he?

The Champions are going through their zillionth issue of battling the Crimson Dynamo, Titanium Man and Griffin. They really are making heavy work of disposing of them.

Then again, that could be because they're too busy fighting amongst themselves.

Also, it's turned out the Crimson Dynamo is Ivan's son.

Savage Sword of Conan #39, Marvel UK

The Hour of the Dragon continues, for the umpteenth month running. I know I've said it before but that really is a long hour.

This installment is Sword of the South, the long-awaited sequel to Walt Disney's Song of the South.

It would also appear we get a meeting of Red Sonja, Conan and Kull which I would assume to be a reprint of the storyline from Conan the Barbarian #68.

I could, however, be completely wrong.

Spider-Man and Hulk Weekly #409

The Hulk and Doc Samson are still having to contend with Woodgood's highly-strung creations.

Back in New York, Daredevil must tackle the Gladiator and Beetle who, I think, have hijacked a train. Needless to say, they prove no match for our hero.

Meanwhile, Spidey's up against the Smuggler who I would assume to have been smuggling things.

Forces in Combat #35, ROM

All I know about this issue is ROM's still whittling about his lost Neutralizer. I'd probably be concerned about it too, if only I knew what it is.

But that's quite a striking cover, even if it does seem to have originally been intended purely for use as a splash page.

Team-Up #17, Ant-Man, Marvel UK

Scott Lang's Ant-Man takes on a very angry-looking villain.

I've a feeling I've read this tale in the not-too-distant past but don't have a clue when, where or why.

I see Spider-Man's teaming up with the Black Widow. I wonder if it's the one in which she's lost her memory, thinks she's a school teacher and can't understand how she keeps developing the ability to beat people up every time she's attacked?

Future Tense #10, Star Trek

Marvel's adaptation of Star Trek: The Motion Picture glides serenely along and, now, the Enterprise's new lieutenant's been possessed by V'ger!

The Micronauts are encountering their deadliest foe yet.

A broken fridge.

There's an Alex Nino drawn strip whose word balloons are too annoying for it to be worth the effort of reading them.

Finally, the High Evolutionary's mithering about the danger of Earth and Counter-Earth discovering each other's existence.

Valour #10, Conan the Barbarian

Conan's still fighting a tribe of vampires.

Moon-Boy's worrying about the dangers of alien invasion, while Devil Dinosaur's more interested in having a nap.

King Arthur's still trying to retrieve Guinevere from her abductor - who turns out to be the son of the Prince of Evil!

Dr Strange is still in the process of rescuing Wong, from another dimension.

And, in this week's tale of Asgard, Odin decides to give Balder the gift of invincibility - after having earlier ordered all his friends to kill him.

What a guy.