Thursday, 25 February 2021

February 25th, 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.

I always cry at weddings.

Mostly because I hate them.

And they hate me.

In this week, forty years ago, you can, therefore, imagine that hatred filled every corner of my being, as that was the week in which the engagement of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer was announced.

Actually, if I'm honest, I wasn't that bothered, one way or the other.

I had better things to worry about.

Like the launch of yet another Marvel weekly.

Or I would have had I been even remotely aware of it.

Spider-Man and Hulk Weekly #416, Madame Web

But first, as the cover informs us, Spider-Man's having his first encounter with Madame Web.

Daredevil's still revealing his origin to a reporter who, after hearing the tale, decides to destroy the evidence.

Hellcat's trying to use the Shadow Cloak to transport her to where She-Hulk is.

Except it can't because She-Hulk doesn't currently exist, as she's in her Jen Walters guise.

But, with enemies assailing Jen from all sides, that may be about to change...

What the Hulk's up to while all these events are going on is anyone's guess.

My guess is he's still battling Sabra, the scourge of terrorists wherever they may lurk.

Captain America #1

And here it is. That new book hits the shops, as Marvel UK's empire swells to a greater size than the human brain can accommodate.

And it all kicks off with John Byrne's run on the title strip.

That can only mean Machinesmith.

And that can only mean Dragon Man!

Elsewhere, the Dazzler makes her disco-riffic debut with the help of Spider-Man who teams up with her to eliminate what seems a fairly minor gang of hoodlums.

In the Defenders' strip, Valkyrie's making her long-awaited return to Asgard - and it looks like Hela's out to cause chaos for all mankind.

Iron Man, meanwhile, is having problems with his armour malfunctioning.

I spot the dastardly hand of Justin Hammer in it.

And, if all that wasn't enough, we even get a free super-hero sticker.

Team-Up #24, Marvel UK, Captain Universe

From the cover blurb, it would appear Spider-Man's teaming up with Machine Man.

Exactly who Captain Universe is teaming up with, I couldn't say. I suspect it might be himself.

Future Tense #17, Micronauts

The Mad Thinker's still out to gain control of ROM, thinking him to be an android. This brilliant plan all goes south when the Thinker's current android turns against his master and abducts him.

Captain Kirk and his gang dispose of the Klingons whose nightmare projector's been causing chaos on the Enterprise. And it's all thanks to Mr Spock and his Vulcan mind-meldiness.

The Micronauts are up to something that I would guess isn't very interesting.

In this week's tale of the Watcher, a man living in the far-future decides to gain total power by stealing the world's only remaining gun.

But he must soon pay the price for his megalomania.

On Counter-Earth, Apollo's true form is revealed in his battle with Adam Warlock but that doesn't do anyone any good, as he decides to take two of Adam's friends hostage.

Valour #17, Conan the Barbarian

Conan's been hired as bodyguard to a haughty queen from Africa but, when a pale-skinned slave girl shows up, I think we can all guess whose side he's going to take.

Thor and Ulik are still combining their forces to defeat the menace of Trogg. An act which costs the thunder god the ruby that could have shown him the whereabouts of the missing Odin.

The Warriors of the Shadow Realm are doing something or other.

Dr Strange and Nighthawk put an end to Death-Stalker's thieving from Kyle Richmond's research facility.

By blowing him up.

I suspect that won't prevent him from returning.

And, in the dim and distant past, giant ants are causing no end of trouble for the dim and distant apemen in Devil Dinosaur's life.


Anonymous said...

Captain America seems like an odd choice for the title character of a new Marvel UK title, Steve.

Kinda strange they didn't put Spidey on the cover, seeing as he teams up with Dazzler inside.
But against a fairly minor gang of hoodlums...? Its not a reprint of the dangermash nipple electrode fave with Lightmaster then?


Steve W. said...

I don't think so. It seems to be their second crime-busting collaboration.

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

Yeah, you'd have thought they'd have given that Captain America comic a generic name like Titans or Superheroes.

I always thought Cap got a raw deal in the U.K. comics. I see him as one of the big ten alongside Soider-Man, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, FF, Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, Avengers and X-Men, But he was the last of them to get his own strip, in the first issue of Titans.

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

And, yes Steve, Dazzler 1 seems to be a different story ti the nipple clamp one in ASM. In fact it's the one I've seen featured on Peerless Power Of Comics where the Enchantress and Dazzler compete to be the singer at a disco.

Anonymous said...

'Spider-man & Hulk Weekly' # 416

The cover. Spidey's legs are almost as wide as his chest. Plus, his feet are like snow shoes. Art anatomy class? It all looks out of proportion. "She-Hulk in inner space!" is an interesting sub-head, however. 'Inner Space' was the title of the remake of 'Fantastic Voyage'. Although the original movie starred Raquel Welch, the remake hadn't been made yet - so is this title prophetic? Plus, the She-Hulk fights barbarians - like Red Sonya (?) - so this title/story combines 3 elements from Charlie's free association. Charlie's "Lassie Come Home" post already predicted the dog stealing epidemic - is this another prediction?

Common themes? Madame Web tells Peter Parker she knows his secret identity, but will keep it secret. That's exactly the same thing newspaperman Ben Urich does in Daredevil, in respect of Matt Murdoch.

Anyway. Madame Web is a blind psychic/precog (a bit like Destiny in 'The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants'). She's kept alive by a life support system, designed by her late husband. What's more, she trains other psychics. The reclusive publisher of the Daily Globe, K.J.Clayton, hired a beautiful actress, Belinda Bell (one of Madame Web's students), to take her place. Belinda Bell has been kidnapped, and Spidey gives Madame Web a photo of her, to get a psychic "read".

K.J.Clayton, who is an older lady, has been captured by a Sidney Greenstreet type, whose men are also holding Belinda Bell hostage. Belinda publicly handed the Daily Globe over to the fat man, who's going to kill the ladies, and take the paper. None of this makes any sense; but, of course, Spidey saves the day.

At the end, as the Daily Globe folds, Spidey loses his job there. Madame Web predicts his financial situation will resolve itself - but not precisely as Peter would wish. Turns out Jameson's on the 'phone, desperate for Peter's services!

The Hulk (in reality, a Thor short!)

A group of youngsters ask Thor if he's stronger than the Hulk. Thor explains it's difficult to decide, and remembers an old Kirby story. Thor has to fight the Hulk; but, for some inexplicable reason, Odin only gives Thor 5 minutes to win. So, as we all know, it's going to be inconclusive. THE END.


Ben Urich burns his Daredevil expose with his cigarette lighter. We all knew he wasn't going to publish it, right from the start. Maybe DD was trying to bore Ben to death. Maybe the expose would have been published if it had mentioned Stick, the Hand, or Elektra - but, none of those got mentioned!


Wizard Lambert's barbarians are tormenting Jen Walters & Zapper (whom they've literally got over a barrel!) Jen transforms into She-Hulk & the barbarians turn tail & run. Whilst She-Hulk is beating the barbarians up, Hellcat appears & kicks the She-Hulk into the Shadow Cloak, to transport her to wizard Lambert's dimension. Unfortunately, She-Hulk never materializes. Lambert realizes the problem - his dimension is actually within the She-Hulk (I thought it was inside that pearl necklace thingy?) - so, trying to transport She-Hulk inside herself has created some sort of loop. Anyway, She-Hulk lands, grabbing a floating boulder on which Man-Wolf is standing.

Anonymous said...

'Captain America' # 1

'Captain America' was probably (with a couple of exceptions) the best weekly since the 1979 Marvel Revolution began, and glossy weeklies were abolished.

Common themes? Name dropping pop music. In Captain America, Bernie Rosenthal declares: "Oh, I'll admit Springsteen's done some great stuff--but Costello is still my fave, especially with Nick Lowe producing! Don't you agree, Steve?" Similarly, in 'Dazzler', "Reverberating wildly, a Pink Floyd song blares from the miniature radio..."

Anyway - Captain America. Obviously, it's the Stern & Byrne Cap. Before the story starts, we have an "extra" - 'The Life & Times of Captain America' - which includes a floor plan of Cap's Brooklyn Heights apartment. Roger Stern did a floor plan of Peter Parker's pad, near the beginning of his Spidey run, too - didn't he? Anyone noticing a pattern?

It's a characterization issue, introducing Steve's new friends & neighbours at his apartment block. Anna Kapplebaum is a death camp survivor, who doesn't realize Steve saved her during the war. Josh Cooper is a former army medic, who teaches kids with learning disabilities. Michael Farrel is an inveterate reader, with 6 degrees who, nevertheless, works as a fireman, because that's what he's always wanted to do. Finally, Bernie Rosenthal is a glassblower, with more than a passing interest in Steve. Byrne draws a bookshelf with 'Shogun', 'Lord of the Rings', 'Lucifer's Hammer', 'Lord of Light', etc on.

After a morning flogging his portfolio, Steve has dinner & coffee with his friends, when a radio broadcast claims a strange flying object visited all the same buildings he did. A fight with Dragonman, prepped by Machinesmith, is on the cards next issue.

Iron Man.

'Iron Man' is the Michelinie Iron Man run. Michelinie's run is notable for one particular thing - Bethany Cabe. Bethany Cabe is possibly the first realistic depiction of a woman in Marvel comics. Bethany's an independent woman who takes no prisoners, and goes on the offensive, right from the start. She gets right in Iron Man's face, and sticks it to him, when she thinks he's not guarding Stark properly. In other words, Bethany Cabe is a distinct
psychological type, whom we've all met variations of, at some time in our lives! This later makes it all the more upsetting for the reader when, despite Bethany's fierce pride, her sister is beaten to within an inch of her life. At that point, Iron Man must help her.

Nevertheless, we're not at that point yet. Iron Man's armour is malfunctioning, so he's testing it, in every way possible. Meanwhile, characters are being established, as the reader watches Bethany barbing with crotchety secretary, Mrs. Arbogast.

The Defenders.

Heimdall welcomes the Valkyrie to Asgard. Ed Hannigan's doing the art. A double page spread has only 3 panels! Even Colan didn't do that! I suppose some licence is given, when you're conveying the majesty of Asgard!

Val is there to see the Fates, and learn her future. She gazes into the spring of Mimir, where she sees Valhalla in civil war, and herself struck down, with death hovering over her. It's worse than Ragnarok, as it's a future devoid of hope - run by a madman who inflicts death arbitrarily at will!

Anonymous said...


Some thugs have Alison cornered in a dead end alley. She pretends to want to check her make up (do the "gal thing"), so as to play her music and use her powers. As Alison's back is against the wall, maybe that's a clue to the Pink Floyd song (we're not told). Then again, it's not long since X-Men # 137, so "Dark Side of the Moon", perhaps?

Anyway, she's doing okay, but Spidey comes along & saves her - which is hardly a female empowerment story, is it? We're still in 1981. Spidey pulls a fleeing car back, with his webbing, and it almost looks like a swipe from 'What if Spidey joined the FF' with Colan. But, then again, I tend to see patterns, even when they're not there!

'Team-up' # 24

Spidey & Machine Man - art by Jerry Bingham. I always lump Jerry Bingham together with Brent Andersen, as artists who arrived post Byrne's run on 'The Dark Phoenix' saga. To me, Byrne's art was modern, but they were even more modern, representing the 'next wave'. Of course, memory isn't accurate!

Machine Man's arch enemy, Baron Brimstone, breaks the Sandman out of jail. Machine Man & Spidey both attack Sandy, from either side - he ducks, turning himself to sand, and the heroes both collide, and start fighting (of course!) Why is it that in Marvel Team up, when heroes accidentally bump into each other, they automatically fight?If the London underground was like this, there'd be punch ups every day! Anyway, it's also a role reversal story, as Spidey treats Machine Man the way Jameson treats him. We've had this before, when Spidey met the Silver Surfer. To be continued...

Ms. Marvel.

The new Ms.Marvel is fighting those giant lizards in the desert. Not enough pages.

'What if Submariner had married Invisible Girl?'

Reed gives the Human Torch some kind of pill or something (I forget) so he can 'flame on' under water, and fight Namor. So why the hell hasn't he given it to him before, every other time somebody's doused his flame? Namor still catches him in some kind of net. Warlord Krang is drawn to look like Ming the Merciless. It isn't Colan's best.

Captain Universe.

Like Green Lantern, Captain Universe can do anything. He creates a light sabre to combat the shadow monsters. Next, he zaps them with an eye beam. Then he breaks a hole in the shuttle craft, letting in the Sun's rays, and killing the shadow monsters, before finally saving his father. It's all rubbish. At the end it says anyone can gain the Uni power (or whatever) - it could be you! This is for little kids, but even as a little kid, I didn't think the Uni power would come & turn me into a superhero! Come on! Next week, thankfully, it's 'The White Tiger' !

Colin - as a fellow radio 4 guy, are you going to give Charlie the latest news about Paul McCartney? And what about Branagh playing Johnson?


Anonymous said...

Ah, its the opening segment of Dazzler #1, where she fights off some muggers - who were on every street in late 70s/early 80s Marvel universe New York - with her little transistor radio playing music by well known disco outfit Pink Floyd (eh?) helping her create a light show, and Spidey turns up to help.

Actually, now I think about it, that Lightmaster nipple-clamp story has already been reprinted by Marvel UK, having been discussed on Steve Does Comics more than once.
So - pedant alert! - that first issue of Captain America isn't Dazzler's debut on this side of the Atlantic.


Anonymous said...

You got in there first Phillip, but as you correctly point out - and a quick online search confirms - Daz plays a Pink Floyd song. So maybe its a cover, like this late 70s disco version -

And I look forward to seeing how Branagh's Boris Johnson compares with his other icon of world-beating Englishness, Henry V.
"Once more unto the Brexit, dear friends..."


Anonymous said...

Sean - I think the "band of brothers" speech more suits Killdumpster, as, to him, the blog is a band of brothers!


Steve W. said...

Dangermash, when it comes to their treatment of Cap, I wonder if Marvel feared UK kids might find it difficult to relate to a hero who so strongly represented another country?

Phillip, thanks for the mighty summary. On that cover, Spider-Man also looks to be too small, relative to Madame Web, bearing in mind he's closer to the camera than she is. If she stood up, she'd tower over him.

I like that early FF tale where we're told the Torch can burn underwater because he's using his Napalm Power. Then again, maybe it was for the best that they subsequently dropped that idea.

Sean, I think the Dazzler had also already made a UK appearance in an X-Men tale.

Colin Jones said...

Phillip, I'm afraid I hadn't heard about either Paul McCartney or Branagh playing Johnson. So I googled McCartney and found something about him writing an autobiography - is that the big news? Branagh also played Hercule Poirot so perhaps he can use zee petite grey cells to track down those missing Brexit benefits.

And on the subject of our great thespians, I'm now off to watch Glenda Jackson in "Elizabeth R" on BBC Four (via iplayer) so I'll return later...

Anonymous said...

Charlie, you the man! I got the package!
To all, Charles was kind enough to send me a pile of '90's D.C. stuff including Starman, which he knows I dig, four copies of Alter Ego, a great comic journal I used to enjoy, and get this, the D.C Showcase collection of Unknown Soldier, which is new to me but I will explore eagerly. I like those Showcase collections. Some other interesting stuff too. All pristine.
Thanks, man! I'll shoot you off an E-mail here soon. I'm a bit scattered tonight.
However, after reading the return address, I must reveal to all here at SDC that Charlie has not been totally honest about his name and background.
He is actually Toivo Vilpas, a cow-minder from Finland.
Toivo, I'm sorry, but I can't let you go on living a lie. Even if you are wanted by Interpol for smuggling cheese.

Anyway, it was a sweet gesture and I am touched by it.
Thanks, brother.


Anonymous said...

How do you know that isn't Cuban disinformation M.P.?


Anonymous said...

Colin - Yes, Paul McCartney's writing an autobiography/memoirs, based on his lyrics, helped by (ghost written?) Pulitzer prize winning Irish poet, Paul Muldoon. Apparently, Muldoon received a 'phone call, ostensibly from Trump, asking him to be America's poetry 'Czar'. In reality, it was Macca, who's an excellent mimic, pretending to be Trump, just to play a prank on his old pal, Muldoon!

I just thought, as he's interested in all things Liverpool (except the Liver Birds & Bread) that Charlie (Toivo?) might be interested!

Maybe Branagh will start referring to himself in the third person, like Poirot, too!


Anonymous said...

Colin - Oh, is Macca playing Johnson, as well as Branagh? ;)


dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

Steve - yes, that was probably the reason he fit a raw deal from Marvel U.K. but to me he was a superhero and one of the Avengers. He might have had America in his name but that didn't matter to me. I'd rather have been reading Cap than Captain Britain.

Colin Jones said...

Apparently the Branagh drama will be called "This Sceptered Isle" and it'll focus on how we've all coped magnificently during the pandemic. Will it be honest and show BoJo saying that we just needed to wash our hands and the pandemic would be over in 12 weeks? Or will he be portrayed as a latter-day Churchill - cometh the hour, cometh the man sort of thing?

Colin Jones said...

Steve, I'm embarrassingly late with this news but did you know that Wham!'s "Last Christmas" reached No.1 on January 1st and now holds the record for the longest gap between a song being released and reaching the No.1 position (36 years and a few weeks)? Nowadays my brief annual interest in the Top 40 lasts until I discover the identity of the Christmas No.1 so I was totally unaware of Wham!'s New Year triumph until yesterday. And poor old George Michael never lived to see it.

Steve W. said...

I did know that, Colin. And, I think it was the week before that that Mariah Carey managed a similar feat when her Christmas single finally hit the top spot, decades after its initial release.

Anonymous said...

Tonight, Scott Edelman's interviewed (Mary) Jo Duffy, on 'Eating the Fantastic'.

There's some really great stuff in it!

Powerman & Iron Fist starts at about 01:18

At 01:28, there's tips other writers gave (Mary) Jo Duffy -

Denny said: "If a story isn't complicated enough, throw in a gorilla!"

01:43 Devil Dinosaur gets a mention!

Stan & Jack, & Steve Ditko get discussed, in detail.

Lots of other great stuff, too!


Here's the link:

Steve W. said...

Thanks, Phillip. That definitely looks well worth a listen.

Colin Jones said...

Steve, I knew about Mariah Carey but you forgot Ladbaby who reached No.1 on Christmas Day.

Redartz said...

Just popping in to thank you all for enlightening me again! First I've heard about Macca's bio. I'll definitely watch that with inter. And thank you Phillip for that link! Another to add to the weekend viewing list.

Steve, your blog is the best source of information for cool stuff I know of, and much more pleasant than wading through the controversies on Facebook.

Killdumpster said...

Phillip, oh my brother, we are indeed all "brothers-under-the-skin", with our love of comics and various forms of pop culture.

Where's Charlie? Both Sean & Dangermash mentioned nipples! LET THE GAMES BEGIN!! :)

Always had a problem with how Dragon Man is usually drawn. Originally his neck was cranked over. Seems most artists interpreted that as having a big head.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, where is Charlie...

K.D. I like Dragon Man because he's this huge, heavy thing suspended in the air by wings that couldn't possibly support his weight. And he shoots rivers of fire out of his mouth. What an image.
Something about Kirby portraying mass and kinetic energy at the same time.
And he does have a big head! In proportion to his body, just like an infant or a young child. That's intentional. Little kids have big heads compared to the rest of them.
Dragon Man might be a scary big-ass android, but his mental programming doesn't seem to be very good at developing or acquiring new information.
To wit: infantile. That's why Kirby drew him with a big head.
His creator, one Professor Gilbert, seems to have lacked either the knowledge or the funding to make Dragon-Man a self-actualizing. evolving artificial intelligence.
So D.M. is stuck at stupid.
Why'd he make so big and dangerous one might wonder.
Make him small and puny like a homunculus. Small and manageable.
But if they didn't make 'em big, you wouldn't have Dragon Man or the Frankenstein monster.
And no story!


Killdumpster said...

I truly seem to remember Dragon Man drawn with a craned-over neck. Or maybe I'm wrong.Think I'm going to do some research.

Killdumpster said...

You're right, oh my brother.

Man, swear I saw that somewhere... That's how I always drew him.

Steve W. said...

Colin, I feel that forgetting about Ladbaby is a wise policy.

Thanks, Red. :)

Anonymous said...

Redartz - Thanks! I thought Charlie's the only person who reads Liverpool stuff ; )

Killdumpster - As Shakespeare meant, "Whoever reads this blog with me today, shall be my brother!"

M.P. - That's a sharp character sketch of Dragonman! The one you did for the Grey Gargoyle (a while back) was pretty good, too.

I hope Charlie's not offended because I suggested 'The Liver Birds' might not appeal to him. (Maybe if they did a remake, with Keren Woodward as Sandra!)



Anonymous said...

Thanks, Phil, K.D. I enjoy your commentaries as well, and everyone else's too, for that matter. It's enjoyable to see this stuff we're all familiar with from somebody else's perspective. Kind of a new and different take on these comics we know practically by heart. Makes them seem a bit new again.
I guess we're all just a bunch of aging comic nerds shooting the s#!t about this goofy thing we all love. Not at all a bad way to pass the time! It's great fun for me at the end of the day to crack a beer and start blabbing and debating about comics and God knows what else.


P.S. -
K.D. you mentioned drawing superheroes and villains. I've been thinking about taking that up as a hobby again. I used to do that all the time as a kid, and even a teenager. Just put the radio on a classic rock station and start drawing the Hulk or Warlock or something.
I'd like to take a crack at the Injustice Society---y'know, Solomon Grundy, Ragdoll, maybe that Icicle guy.

Anonymous said...

You could make up your own stuff M.P. Surely you could come up with something better than Solomon Grundy?


Anonymous said...

Sean, I don't think I could come up with a viable comic book character even if you put a gun to my head and cocked it.
And from what I've seen, most comic writers can't either. Creating such a character is somewhere between inspiration and dumb luck.
A lot closer to dumb luck.
A lotta stuff gets thrown at the wall, but very rarely does something stick.


Anonymous said...

Dumb luck sounds like something you could manage M.P.
Seriously though, how do you know you can't come up with something good til you try? It doesn't have to look super-professional to be viable...


Anonymous said...

M.P. & Sean - To Stan Lee, for a character to work well, you should be able to sum up their premise in a single sentence.

For example,

Daredevil: "He's blind & his other sentences compensate so much, it's almost as if he can still see."

Iron Man: "He's a man with a heart condition, who lives inside the world's most sophisticated iron lung."

These are both lifted straight from the (Mary) Jo Duffy interview (01:27:26). How's that for topical/serendipity?