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.


Anonymous said...

'Team-up' # 19

First, Spider-man & the Black Widow. Through separate sources, Spidey & Natasha both discover Simon Stroud's location - top gangster Tom Stoneham's palatial estate. Spidey & the Widow find Stroud tied up, but are fired on by dozens of goons. Behind them all is the Owl who, paralyzed and in pain, is seated in a flying chair, armed with lots of laser guns! The Maggia got the Owl this chair, after Spidey & Daredevil left him a wreck. ( Why didn't the Owl approach A.I.M. instead? Modok knows far more about flying chairs, etc - but, I digress...) He intends to pay the Maggia back, by causing a black out, & robbing everyone. Spidey rescues the Widow, and damages the Owl's chair. As the Owl is escaping, Simon Stroud - who's a top class CIA spy - takes an impossible shot, winging the Owl's chair, and bringing him down to earth with a bang! Simon & Spidey return to find Natasha has single- handedly defeated about 20 opponents. All through the story, Spidey calls Nastasha 'Red' - this is also his pet name for Red Sonya - but he never used it for MJ. What about Medusa?

This week's 'Team-up' reviews past issues, to bring the reader up to speed, a lot. The Fantastic Four, for example, starts with the same review of Korgon, the Blind God, that we had last week. Moreover, the story's title, 'The Blind God's Tears', sounds straight out of Michael Moorcock. Also, we get an explanation of how the Space Vikings' eco-dome thingy works - but it's really silly. The ice dome melts and drips onto the plants, watering them, before refreezing, then - well... it's garbage!

The FF agree to help Korgon, then break their manacles, proving they could have escaped at any time. Reed invents something/does some jiggery pokery to help Korgon, but he'll need Johnny's flame to power it up. Wiglif & the Vikings are suspicious, thinking the FF will use their powers to kill Korgon. Nevertheless, Korgon uses the 'nullifier' to re-enable the FF's powers (like the 'ultimate nullifier'!) and gives Hrolf the 'darkfield rod' in case the FF try any treachery (like the 'cosmic control rod'!) - FF writers do like their rods & nullifiers! Next week, Thor enters the fray!

Morbius is written by Doug Moench - just like the FF! 'Team-up' is giving credits this week, for some strange reason. Morbius has crap art, this week, by Frank Robbins - sorry to any Robbins fans out there! The story starts reviewing all the past issues - Blade, Arcturus, the cats demons, Daemond & Martine, the Caretakers - you name it - it's reviewed here.

On a rooftop, Morbius is startled by that girl who can transform into a woman, who is her future self - that we saw about 17 issues ago! She's come to warn Morbius to flee with her to the Caretakers, as Daemond's waging all out war! Suddenly Daemond appears as a giant, floating 'Wizard of Oz' type head, & lots of his goons in demon masks attack Morbius & the girl. She transforms into her adult warrior form, & her & Morbius fight the masked goons, together, in an "I've got your back" pose. All the goons have been defeated, when suddenly Morbius and the girl's adult woman persona see one last goon threatening the girl's unconscious body, lying on the rooftop, out of which the adult persona appears. What's more, Morbius recognizes the goon's voice - it's his lost love, Martine, behind the mask - bound to carry out Daemond's wishes!

Anonymous said...

Ant-Man also starts with a review of previous issues - something which was needed more in the story's second part - but better late than never. The hulking pink monster man - industrialist Darren Agonistes Cross - also gives us his origin story. He's got an experimental nuclear organic pacemaker, which he needs Dr.Sondheim's advanced surgical skills to keep repairing. He's going through heart-transplants at a rate of knots, which he harvests from down & outs, and Ant-Man will be his next donor!

After Ant-Man has survived the torture of this boring origin story, Cross leaves - whereupon Scott Lang pulls out some spare antennae to replace the ones Cross snapped last week, and calls his ants. Lang also punches out the two named (because it makes it more real for the readers) security guards we met last time, Mike & Ernie. No - it's not those two old hecklers from the Muppet Show - concentrate!

Anonymous said...

'Forces in Combat' # 37

The last 'Forces in Combat' - no tears, folks. For the final issue, there's only 3 stories. A massive ROM chunk - 21 pages (albeit printed in the wrong order), Machine Man, & a measly 3 & 1/2 pages of Kull!

ROM went to Washington, in search of the neutralizer, pursued by a female investigative reporter ("Ace" O'Connor). After ROM battled the US Air Force, he was captured by Dr.Rachel Sweet (a disguised Dire Wraith), and held at Project Safeguard, in a stasis field.

At Project Safeguard, as well as Rachel Sweet, ROM finds another old acquaintance, the Space knight Firefall - or rather the human with Firefall's armour grafted to his body. You may remember, weeks ago, the Dire Wraiths got a cheap hood, named Archie Stryker, to wear the Space knight Firefall's armour, to battle ROM.

Dr.Rachel Sweet gets a surprise visit from the Dire Wraith's "Most High One", who orders her to kill ROM & destroy the neutralizer. To Rachel Sweet, destroying the neutralizer is a wasted opportunity, as she could free the thousands of Dire Wraiths banished by the neutralizer, and use it as a weapon, too! The "Most High One" doesn't like her answering back, and makes this quite clear, before leaving.

Soon ROM & Firefall (Archie Stryker) break free. ROM can't get the neutralizer, because it's protected by a force field. In an act of redemption, hood Archie Stryker sacrifices himself, using Firefall's living flame to penetrate the force field surrounding the neutralizer. To attract the attention of the human guards outside the lab, Rachel Sweet slyly flips the intercom on, and begs ROM not to kill her (he wasn't going to kill her, just banish her to the shadow realm of Limbo.) Once the guards enter, Rachel Sweet dares ROM to use the neutralizer on her, thinking he won't, as all the humans will believe he murdered a woman in cold blood.

Nevertheless, ROM wipes the smirk off Rachel Sweet's face, as he calls her bluff, firing the neutralizer at her. Unfortunately, it's not just the guards who see this, but also investigative reporter, "Ace" O'Connor - a P.R. disaster for ROM!

Like the ROM story with the Mad Thinker, this is an excellent ROM story, showing just how good the title can be.

Anonymous said...

In Machine Man, MM is battling Jack O'Lantern at the Super-embassy - or whatever. At first, Jack o'Lantern decides to cut his losses, declaring: "Only fools and idealists fight on when the cause is lost! A true mercenary knows when to find the back door!" This pragmatism is like the Taskmaster's attitude, when he fought the Avengers, one at a time, to a standstill, but said: "Maybe with my reflexes I could defeat them all! But then again, maybe I couldn't! There ain't no bucks in feedin' an ego--" before beating a hasty retreat.

In the end, Machine Man uses an electrical barrage, not to stun Jack O'Lantern - as he thinks - but to detonate Jack's concussion bomb, which puts him out of action. The crowd at the embassy are typically ungrateful for what Machine Man did for them. Later, Gears Garvin repairs Machine Man, who walks off into a Steve Ditko sunset. The end.

Kull is barely worth summarizing. As Kull & his pals are in a secret passageway, the city's soldiers attack. Kull fights them, taking care not to hurt them, as he later needs them to regain his kingdom. The chief wizard bloke arrives & tells everyone to calm down. Kull accepts the wizard's deal, and does a promenade through the city, so his citizens can see him. The story abruptly ends with Kull and the mystery girl reclining in opulent luxury, whilst Ridondo the mad minstrel sings a ballad. Somehow I don't think the story really ended like this. Then again, Warlock ended very abruptly.

Well, that's it, for 'Forces in Combat' - whoever was last in, switch the light out!

Actually, 'Forces in Combat' merges with 'Future Tense' next week. But the name only stays on the cover for the first week - after that, the name 'Forces in Combat' disappears forever, from the annals of Marvel UK! But ROM lasts a bit longer, in 'Future Tense'.

'Spider-man & Hulk Weekly' - I don't have it this week. However, Thor vs the Hulk will be a draw/inconclusive, because it always is!


Anonymous said...

You don't have to apologize to Fr*nk R*bb*ns fans round these parts Phillip.


Steve W. said...

Thanks for another mammoth overview, Phillip.

I am fascinated by there being a character called Rachel Sweet in ROM. I wonder if she was named in honour of the singer or if it was pure coincidence?

Anonymous said...

Steve - I suppose it's always possible, in that she was contemporary! It's a name like 'Granny Goodness', indicating the very opposite characteristics!

Sean - I defer to your knowledge of the ancient lore & traditions of Steve does Comics!
I thought you'd think up an instance when Peter Parker called M.J. 'Red', just to catch
me out! ;)


Anonymous said...

Well, I'm not much up on Spider-Man Phillip, as he's not a character that ever appealed to me (sorry dangermash). I know very little about MJ Watson other than whats in that MTU issue with Red Sonja.
Hey, I haven't even read the death of Gwen Stacy (sorry Charlie).

But I am familiar with the ancient lore of Steve Does Comics, where it is said crush those who name Fr*nk R*bb*ns, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of their women.
And mentioning Rick Jones is frowned on.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Sean... timing is everything. Had I been like many others here and at BitBA, and missed the Goblin kills Gwen issues, it probably would not have mattered to me either. But, as it was, I was a regular reader of Spidey and her death hurt me. Oh what a bitter web was woven!

Were it up to me, I would add G@rry C@nway to the list of R!ck J@nes and Fr@nk R@bb@ns. He ruined my comic-book-reading life.

Now that I think about it, Charlie's man in Havana is looking to make a few extra bucks. And I'm cleaning up investing in penny stocks of Canadian firms tinkering with psychedelic mushrooms. Hmmm....

Anonymous said...

Phil, I suppose it's better having Peter Parker call Mary Jane "Red" than, say, "little miss fire crotch."


Charlie Horse 47 said...

UK Dudes... can you provide a definition for "taking the piss."

As in I'm listening to H & J on Talk Sport and J says, "me and another guy were sitting there 'taking the piss' when the boss came in...."

Were they drinking?

Anonymous said...

I think it means f***ing with somebody.


Killdumpster said...

Aaargh! You said his name!!! Urrghhh...

Killdumpster said...

You got that right, oh my brother.

Killdumpster said...

Wow, Charlie, mentioning my boy Rick and F**** R****** in the same sentence.

Anonymous said...

K.D., I already know I'm going to regret asking this, but what in the name of God's Green Goodness are you talking about?


Steve W. said...

Charlie, it usually means making fun of someone or something.

Colin Jones said...

Charlie, as Steve says, "taking the piss" means making fun of somebody but "pissed" means drunk and a "piss-up" is a drinking session.

Anonymous said...

I would say in a specific context it can mean someone is being unreasonable, Charlie. As in, "you want me to do what? - are you taking the piss?"

Hey Killdumpster is back. You've been a bit quiet recently Kd - good to see you're around. I was starting to worry you might have been nicked trying to stop the steal or something... (;


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Sean are you taking the piss regarding KD? (I am just practicing the lingo. Did I do OK? Sounds awkward though. Please someone restate in proper form!

Actually my man in Havana tells me KD has been looking for bracelets in caves where he lives in the rural areas of Pennsylvania. Not sure why? Anyone know?

It occurs to me that MP might want to try that too, being out in rural Dakota? Though, you might transmogrify into Ted Nugent's Great White Buffalo or Marvel's Red Wolf?

And now, with all that high water in Sheffield I wonder if our man SDC might seek shelter in a cave and luck out and find some bracelets... or perhaps a hidden stash of stolen dogs???

Killdumpster said...

Now I know Rick Jones and I are cross-dimensional brothers, from printed matter to reality. I make a brief cameo appearance, and get the shred! Lmao! Almost a Stephen King novel. I love you guys.

I'll be back latter tonight, you scurvy bastards.

Anonymous said...

Charlie, my understanding is that despite heavy rain Sheffield is not underwater.
Which is fortunate for Steve, because as if floods weren't bad enough, they generally seem to be followed by a visit from Boris Johnson.


Colin Jones said...

Charlie, all the rain and flooding was caused by Storm Christoph which passed over Britain on Wednesday so it wasn't just Sheffield that was affected.

Anonymous said...

K.D., shine on you crazy diamond!

I was looking at that cover of Thor fighting the Hulk up there. I bought the American copy of that issue when I was a teenager, and even then, I thought, "Dollars to donuts there's not gonna be any clear-cut winner here. It's gonna be another bait-n'-switch."
Already jaded at such a young age. There wasn't gonna be any satisfactory conclusion to the battle. It was like one of those eternally unanswered questions, like "could Odin beat Galactus?"or "where did that other sock go?"
Has there ever been a definitive winner in a Hulk-Thor fight? Not that I'm aware of.
It's like asking how many licks it takes to get down to the center of a Tootsie Pop, or, if there is a God. Science can't answer these questions.
We're never gonna know. We are doomed to uncertainty in a chaotic universe. This is our plight.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

M.P. we all have our jadings to carry.. our umbrages to take.

Yours is Hulk v Thor. Mine is the Death of Gwen,

Yours is further compounded knowing that Thor and Hulk (and the rest of the Marvel Universe) become zombies or are eaten by them, e.g., Galactus was a real smorgasbord and I guess Odin's remaining eye was quite succulent IIRC.

Mine is further compounded by Marvel having her diddle Norman Osborne and giving birth to his twins just a month or so before Green Goblin kills her.

This is our plight as we stand here today on the "back 9" of life... standing next to the grave with one foot on a banana peel.

Can you dig it?

Anonymous said...

We gaze into the abyss, my friend.
But doggone it, just once I'd like to see SOMEBODY win that fight.

I thought that whole business they cooked up between Gwen and Norm was dumb and creepy. It was like soap opera stuff. Totally unnecessary.

On another note, Charlie, my grandmother used to say that thing about the bananas.
She also once said, "You have to go to other peoples' funerals or they won't go to yours."


Redartz said...

M.P.- we are indeed doomed to uncertainty in a chaotic universe. At least I think so. Probably. But then again....
Oh well. At any rate I salute your Grandmother's wisdom!She sounds like my kind of folk!

And to you and Charlie- yes, the Gwen/Osborn kerfuffle was inexplicable. Why, just why go there? Truly the nadir of the title. Which is saying something, as the book had several nadirs in my opinion (are multiple nadirs a contradiction? Then I contradict myself, I contain multitudes.).

Sorry, it's late, and it's been a long year already...

Anonymous said...

I would go a bit further than Grandma M.P., and say its better for you to be going to someone else's funeral than them coming to yours.

Charlie, get over it. Can't you just read Spider-Gwen?


Anonymous said...

Y'know, the first issue of Amazing Spider-Man I read was #150, and I was six or seven at the time.
I didn't find out who Gwen Stacy was until quite a few years later, when I started buying back issues and reprints.
I never quite understood what the fuss was about, but I think I get it now.
The violent death of a main character (a female character, no less) seemed like a sharp departure from what people expected from a main-stream comic book back then.
Some consider it to be the delineating point between the Silver Age of comics and the Bronze Age.
In my opinion they shoulda left it alone after that.
Why not come up with new characters instead of digging up old ones?
But the temptation to dig up the dead for the sake of drama is always there, apparently.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

MP, Sean, Red, and the rest of teh Gang!

You actually make the point that G@rry C@nway was a simply a comic-book sociopath or lazy or both.

He claims he bumped off Gwen b/c there was no where to go with her as a character; she was useless; she was in the way.

Then why all the post-death stories, story lines??? Gwen Clones, Gwen children, Spider Gwen...

Old Charlie ain't totally naïve. I mean, Live-Gwen is not the same state of things as Dead-Gwen and thus GC could argue he knew that Dead-Gwen had many more possibilities such as clones and secret kids.

Then again, she could have been alive and encountered her clones and kids. Hell, they could have had Goblin kill her clone as a "trap door" to bring her back to life.

Ah well.. what's done is done.

Gwen's death and watching Peter Parker eat Aunt May in Zombie Wars... Just can't get that garbage out of my head.

Anonymous said...

That stuff used to drive me crazy, how they would kill off a character and then bring 'em back.
Like bringing Bucky back. I thought, really? His untimely demise was part of the tragic back story of Captain America, and nobody knew better than Stan Lee that every hero needs a tragedy. If gives them depth. It's how they got to be who they are.
Y'know, I was elated at first when they dug up Thanos and Warlock, but after all that Infinity stuff I kinda lost interest.
Geez, they really ran that into the ground.
And schmuck that I am, I spent money on it.

Money I could've spent on whores and whiskey, instead of just wasting it.

(that's an old joke, by the way)


Killdumpster said...

Hey guys, contrary to beliefs that my absence was due to being incarcerated, I've just been insanely side-tracked with hunting parts for my car.

Kings Of The Wild Frontier was the best thing Adam Ant ever did.

Glad to see that you folks were blessed with a Gil Kane cover on Future Tense, nostrils and all.

Was the "new" Daredevil mentioned in Spider-Man/Hulk Weekly that two-toned purple organic-armor costume? Man,that suit was awful. The plain reds will always be the best DD uniform.

Colin Jones said...

Only Uncle Ben and Captain Stacey have stayed dead, possibly because they were too dull to resurrect?

Adam Ant's finest hour was surely Prince Charming and I'm sure Steve will back me on this. Steve? STEVE??

Steve W. said...

Colin, I agree.

KD, I don't think I've encountered that DD costume yet. It sounds like a thing to look forward to.