Thursday, 4 February 2021

February 4th, 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.

***

A wise man once told us to keep watching the skies.

And he was right because, on this night in 1981, the people of the Pacific suddenly discovered they had plenty to see up there.

That's because the area was experiencing an annular solar eclipse.

Wikipedia informs me it was the 27th solar eclipse of Solar Saros 140.

I don't have a clue what that means.

But then, people from the Pacific regions probably don't have a clue what the following paragraph means.

Those folks may have had something magnificent to gaze at but, over in Britain, the public had something almost as dazzling to behold as, that evening, BBC One was broadcasting Captain Beaky's World of Words and Music featuring such entertainment luminaries as Noel Edmonds, Keith Michell, Penelope Keith and Peter Skellern.

That may have been a musical extravaganza unparalleled in the history of humanity but it was making no impact on the UK singles chart which was currently topped by John Lennon's Woman.

And the ex-Beatle was having equal success on the album chart, thanks to his final LP Double Fantasy topping that listing. 

Future Tense #14, the Micronauts

After just one week, Forces in Combat disappears without trace from the front of Marvel UK's latest merged mag.

Not that the crew of the Enterprise care about that.

They're too busy worrying about their ship being overrun with inhuman menaces, including Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster and even an entity that looks suspiciously like the Man-Thing. What's going on and how can it be related to the prison planet they're headed for?

Elsewhere in space, ROM's beloved Ray-Na dies at the hands of the Dire Wraiths.

Back on Earth, the Micronauts are still battling a computer that can take control of other computers.

To finish off with, Adam Warlock sees through the Man-Beast's attempts to convert him to the cause of evil and, after chasing-off the villain, has a heartwarming reunion with his disciples friends.

Spider-Man and Hulk Weekly #413, Man-Wolf

I really don't know what's going on with this week's issue but it certainly looks jam-packed.

By some magic I'm unaware of, it appears we get a team-up of She-Hulk, Hellcat, Valkyrie and Man-Wolf, seemingly in battle with the Stranger.

How this turn of events comes about, I've no idea.

On top of that, we get to see Daredevil's true identity exposed.

All of it means that, for the first time I can think of, neither the Hulk nor Spider-Man make the front cover of their own book. What is this new and strange madness?

Team-Up #21, Fantastic Four, Marvel UK

Spider-Man and the Beast have to team-up when the Modular Man and Killer Shrike steal a microwave condensor from Peter Parker's university. I can only assume the dastardly duo are unusually desperate for pot noodles.

Meanwhile, the Fantastic Four are still struggling to sort out those pesky space Vikings at the North Pole.

Until, that is, Thor randomly turns up and sorts it all out for them.

Elsewhere, it seems, a brand new super-hero takes to the air. I don't have even one inkling who that might be though the fact that he can fly is, no doubt, a clue.

Valour #14, Thor vs Ulik

Thor's having a punch-up with Ulik, in his quest to discover what's happened to the missing Odin.

And the fight isn't going the thunder god's way.

Elsewhere, the Bamula have decided to kick Conan out of their village, having finally noticed he brings them nothing but bad luck.

Speaking of bad luck, no sooner has he left the village than he has a pride of lions chasing after him.

And then he finds himself in a creepy old castle that no one with any sense would choose to spend a night in.

He, of course, decides to spend a night in it...

Devil Dinosaur's in the process of outwitting a group of giant space aliens.

Dr Strange finally manages to rescue Wong from the clutches of another dimension's sorcerer supreme.

Needless to say, Warriors of the Shadow Realm is still giving us thrilling elf action of a kind that doesn't thrill me.

Savage Action #4, Man-Thing

Unless I miss my guess, that's a Neal Adams cover for Man-Thing, while, inside we're told the mind-numbing origin of the muck monster, as drawn by Gray Morrow.

Night-Raven has a text tale called The Chessmaster.

Moon-Knight's about to come up against Lupinar the wolf.

It could be worse. He could be up against Wolfinar the lupin.

Dominic Fortune goes to the circus. But that doesn't stop him from getting into trouble when he gets there.

And, as if all that wasn't enough, the back cover gives us the chance to buy a Star Wars wristwatch, for just £8.95.

Doctor Who Monthly #49, Tom Baker

For those of us who love to delve deeply into the past, we get a feature dedicated to the William Hartnell adventure The Massacre.

For those of us with an inordinate love of sink plungers, we get a photo gallery dedicated to the Daleks.

There's also a ten-page look at the Doctor's various companions, and a brand new picture strip called The Life Bringer in which the Doctor and K-9 encounter the Greek gods.

No doubt, there'll be plenty of mourning going on for Adonais.

We will not, however, be mourning the Jon Pertwee era villains the Daemons.

After all, we don't need to, as they're alive and well and currently have their own story based around them. A fact which sounds intriguing.

Just in case we didn't feel spoiled enough, there's also a star profile of Elisabeth Sladen.

Savage Sword of Conan #40, Marvel UK

Information about this issue's hard to attain but it seems we get to experience the Hyborian hunk walking the Earth today. Whether this is one of the What If tales which featured that very situation, I couldn't say.

Elsewhere, King Kull enters the Realm of the Dead, which, given his track record of being menaced by the supernatural, doesn't seem a sensible thing to do.

Perhaps most significantly of all, the editors of the magazine get to deliver an important message to us.

And, for once, it's not that a book's been cancelled!

Just what it actually is, I don't know.

Empire Strikes Back #143

The main strip trundles along and features the saga's first-ever appearance of Sk'ar and Keral Longknife.

I don't have a clue who those people are.

But it's written by Chris Claremont, so there's probably an airport gets destroyed, along the way.

Killraven's up against the Sirens of 7th Avenue in what I think is only his second story.

It's taken Marvel UK a long time to get round to his second adventure, considering it managed to get through most of his first, back in the days when this was still a weekly comic.

And we finish off with yet more of Marvel's adaptation of the first Star Wars movie.

Frantic #12

Frantic is still going and, no doubt, doing what it does.

Rampage Monthly #32, X-Men

From what I can recall, the battle with Magneto has separated the X-Men into two groups, both of whom believe the other to be dead.

Happily, they're not. One group's back in New York and the other's in the Savage Land, uncovering a dastardly plot by Zaladane.

Luke Cage investigates a bank robbery, only to be drawn into the plans of a character the book describes as an "awesome" super-villain.

The cover claims he's Mr Death, who's not a character I could claim to have encountered.

Finally, I do believe the Thing and Thor are still battling the sinister Seth.

Starburst #30

This month, we get a look at the cinematic triumph that is Hawk the Slayer, a film I always get mixed up with Beastmaster and Krull. Therefore, thanks to such ignorance, I shall say nothing of its merits or lack thereof.

But who cares about that? I don't. Not when we can read this issue's article about the special effects of Blake's 7.

As Blake's 7 was celebrated, the world over, for having the greatest special effects poverty could buy, that is, no doubt, a magnificent treat to read.

We also get a look at The Namos Chronicles.

I don't know what The Namos Chronicles is.

I shall consult Wikipedia.

I've now consulted Wikipedia.

Wikipedia doesn't know what it is either.

Star Heroes Pocket Book #11, X-Men

Thanks to last month's arrival of the X-Men having breathed new life into the book, this is the last-ever issue of Star Heroes.

But only because next month sees it retitled The X-Men!

Can nothing stop the rise of Marvel's mightiest mutants?

Perhaps the Vanisher can because that's who they're up against. 

I must confess he's a villain I know little of.

I remember him appearing in that Factor Three  storyline, the one with the giant space octopus claiming to be the, "Mutant Master," but that's the full extent of my knowledge.

I would, though, assume, from his name, that he has the power of teleportation.

But fear not, those not satisfied with just reading about mutations, for we also get Walt Simonson drawn adventure in Battlestar Galactica.

Hulk Pocket Book #4

I've no idea what goes on in this one. I shall, however, venture to surmise the Hulk's probably in it.

Conan the Barbarian pocket book #4

Gil Kane gets a cover and Conan finds himself become a rogue in the house, as he helps an untrustworthy pair of allies dispose of a giant ape that's got ideas above its station.

Chiller pocket book #11, Man-Thing

Speaking of Conan, a man who's not Conan but is clearly stealing his style, comes up against the horror of the Man-Thing. As does the obligatory cowering female he probably brings along with him for such eventualities.

I do believe this to be the story that first introduced Howard the Duck to the world.

Fantastic Four pocket book #11

The Fantastic Four are about to have their first-ever encounter with the man the world will one day come to know as Adam Warlock but will, for now, have to settle for knowing purely as, "Him."

Spider-Man pocket book #11, Mysterio

Not only does Spider-Man get to have his first-ever encounter with the menacing master of illusion that is Mysterio but he also has his first-ever meeting with the Green Goblin.

And the Hulk.

And possibly the Enforcers.

He certainly is busy this month.

Young Romance pocket book #4

I've no specific info about this month's issue but I'm sure it's as tear-filled as ever.

Titans pocket book #4, Captain America and Iron Man

Judging by that cover, I'd assume Iron Man's about to meet Mr Doll for the first (and possibly last) time, while Captain America's approaching the climax of the tale in which the Red Skull has revealed his origin to us all.

Marvel Superheroes #370, the Champions vs the Stranger

The Champions battle the Stranger but quickly realise they're going to have to ally themselves with him, thanks to him having accidentally set off a bomb that threatens to expand and swallow the entire solar system before contracting and destroying it.

That's if you believe the cover image.

If you believe the cover blurb, they're up against the Shadow-Creatures of the Warlord Kaa.

The Avengers, meanwhile, get to discover the cosmic secret of Michael and, also, find out who killed the Collector.

I'm guessing it was Michael.

I'm also guessing he's not permanently dead.

Elsewhere, the original X-Men continue to fight the flying menace of Sauron.

50 comments:

Anonymous said...

'Spider-man & Hulk Weekly' # 413

Man-Wolf is roaring - whilst the Stranger resembles Salvador Dali. What comic could offer you more? Unfortunately, this cover overpromises & underdelivers. Neither Man-Wolf nor the Stranger appear this week. Besides, on the cover, Man-Wolf's toe-caps are missing from his pirate boots!

Common themes? Biographies. In Fred's Hulk biography, Gamma Base's shut down is getting an entire new chapter. Likewise, in Daredevil, newspaperman Ben Urich (No, he's not that bloke who starred in 'Vegas' - concentrate!) want to write Daredevil's biography (it's not really an expose.) Other common themes: female furies - She-Hulk, & Sabra (the human prickly pear.) Also, in both She-Hulk & He-Hulk, people attack the Hulks, only to find them both in human form, instead.

Last week, 'Spider-man & Hulk Weekly' featured only 3 stories, but each story had lots of pages. This week, Spider-man & Hulk both get plenty of pages, but She-Hulk much less - and Daredevil gets only 3 measly pages! ( The crafty trick last week, was one story - Daredevil - was a Hulk team up, thereby doing double duty.) Credits appear for Daredevil & Spidey, but not the other titles.

Right, Daredevil. The art's by Miller & Klaus Janson. For some reason, Janson's thick lines suit Daredevil well (as we saw in DD vs Beetle & Gladiator.) Roger McKenzie isn't my favourite writer but, reading this, let's keep an open mind.

Daredevil is in hospital, being visited by the Avengers. A newspaper headline is used as a 'framing device' - a Doug Moench technique from Moon Knight & Batman. After the Avengers, Daredevil's visited by the Fantastic Four. And when the FF leave, DD gets a visit from Power Man & Iron Fist. Natasha is the constant through all this, being by Matt's bedside. After Matt's visitors depart, she tells him all that matters is their future together.

Suddenly, newspaperman Ben Urich barges in, getting an indignant response from the Widow! Nevertheless, Matt tells Natasha he knows Ben, and sends her out of the room! Did Daredevil hit his head when the Hulk swatted him into a wall? A choice between Natasha & Ben Urich? Okay, no offense to Ben Urich fans out there! Ben tells Matt he knows he's DD. Matt tries bluffing his way out of it, but Urich asks him to describe a photograph. So Daredevil admits he's Matt Murdock!

Why not revive the fake persona of Mike Murdock? That's what I'd have done - put on some shades & pretend to be Thor!

Anonymous said...

She-Hulk recaps last week, very briefly (3 dudes zap Hell-cat.) The story starts with a lonely Jen Walters at her mother's grave. Next, the 3 guys who grabbed Hell-cat use the Shadow Cloak to travel to Earth, to catch She-Hulk, but find only Jen Walters. As they charge Jen, she happily transforms to She-Hulk, letting off some steam by beating them up! The wizard with the Shadow Cloak says the 2 barbarians (Garth & Gorjoon) are his world's greatest warriors - if they're the best, I'd hate to see the worst - but they're failing miserably. So, as reinforcements, he summons an entire army in the name of StarGod!

In Spider-man, the art's by Jim Mooney & Marie Severin, written by Roger Stern. When Peter can't tell Mysterio the location of ganglord Dutch Mallone's treasure, old fish-bowl head uses a machine called the Psycho-dome on him. The machine swings Peter around, & uses flashing lights, to create a hypnotic effect. At first, he sees Aunt May in a fire; but when Spider-man attacks, Peter knows it's an illusion, for obvious reasons.

Peter pretends to lose consciousness, and escapes. Next, he finds one of the Tinkerer's 'aliens' having a beer, listening to Tammy Wynette on the radio ( Roger Stern stories often feature songs.) Realizing no alien likes "Stand By Your Man", Peter pulls the guy's mask off. The aliens are all stunt men & extras, who worked for the Tinkerer, one of whom became Mysterio.

In the end, Mysterio decides to threaten Debra Whitman to loosen Peter's tongue.

The Hulk starts with a Congressional Committee, reviewing old slides of Hulk & Doc Samson, in a know thine enemies/allies scene. In his slide, Doc Samson is holding up two 5,000lb blocks, one in each hand. On a good day, Spidey could easily manage that! Long story short, the Congressional Committee shuts down Gamma Base. Betty Ross drops, from a plane, a newspaper with this info to Woodgod, Fred & Siren (no internet back then.)

Thunderbolt Ross & Glen Talbot start bitching about Gamma Base's closure. Banner stows away in a ship, for some reason, and wakes up in Israel. Did he sleep for a fortnight? For some flimsy pretext, Banner transforms into the Hulk, and an Israeli superheroine called Sabra goes after him. Unfortunately, by the time she arrives, the Hulk reverts to Banner. Although there's no credits, Belinda Glass(?)is thanked for the name & concept of Sabra. Later we get an etymology of the name, too. I seem to recall Sabra fires special quills at the Hulk, which could pierce his hide, causing him problems other foes could not. At the time, I thought this ridiculous, as even Wolverine's Adamantium claws couldn't pierce the Hulk's skin, in the original Herbe Trimpe encounter. It was dumb stuff like this that eventually drove me away from Marvel!

Anonymous said...


'Team-up' # 21.

Spidey & the Beast vs Killer Shrike & Modular Man. Be honest, doesn't Killer Shrike remind you of Whiplash? Both have ponytails, and both use electrical weapons. The Modular Man reminds me of the Invisible Man, wearing Dame Edna's glasses!

As the story starts, Peter walks his date home, but the Beast is all she talks about. Parker doesn't even get a goodnight kiss! Modular Man & Killer Shrike are going up in a helicopter to collect microwaves from a Cable TV broadcast via the Empire State Building, so Modular Man can absorb the microwaves and rule the world! That's crystal clear, isn't it?

The Beast is sitting on a building's ledge, concluding he'll sort it all out himself, when Spidey arrives. Turns out the Beast owes Spidey 10 bucks. Not paying your debts - maybe Hank McCoy's been taking lessons from Dr.Doom's encounter with Luke Cage!

Spidey reaches the baddies first, and ruins the microwave dish. Whiplash - I mean Killer Shrike - combines a Kung Fu blow, his super strength, and an electrical blast, to knock Spidey out! The Beast catches an unconscious Spidey, and activates Peter's webshooter, saving them both.

The Modular Man increases in size - a bit like the Growing Man - turns against Killer Shrike, and starts carrying on like King Kong, on top of the Empire State Building. Spidey saves Killer Shrike. The Beast & Spidey aim the unconscious Killer Shrike's zappers at Modular Man, and discharge/short circuit - whatever - him. Killer Shrike regains consciousness, & flies off. Spidey says, "Let him go" - the End!


Anonymous said...

The Fantastic Four. Have you the energy to endure the Space Vikings saga? Thor comes to help. Thor knocks the Darkfield Rod out of Korgon's hand. The FF use the rod to reactivate their powers. Thor & the FF give Korgon's goons a good kicking. Korgon then goes crackers, and starts destroying the dome with his eye beams - it's time for the big man to take charge. Odin's giant apparition materializes! Odin removes Korgon's fires of madness, and tells everyone what's what. Oh, Wiglif is revealed as the traitor, too. Finally, the FF assure Korgon they'll never reveal the secret of the crystal dome.

In Morbius, Daemond has a messiah complex. He'll take over the world, replacing science with sorcery. He knocks Morbius unconscious with a streetlight. He order Morbius's girl, Martine, to carry Morbius to the Mansion of the New order. A strong girl? But, then again, Morbius is light boned. But compare Martine to Natasha...who's saved Daredevil's life at least 3 times! Ben Urich...

The Caretakers declare they'll stop Daemond sacrificing Morbius to release the demon hordes to this dimensional plane - after all, the embryo cylinders haven't attained peak gestation for the children of the comet (this is all gibberish!)

Daemond's about to plunge a knife in Morbius's chest, when Rocketeer-types arrive, whilst the Caretakers attack Daemond. Meanwhile that strange girl, who can transform into a woman warrior, rescues Morbius, telling him she was the original child of the comet. I don't know why you're reading this, because no-one follows it all - or cares! - for that matter. It's garbage!

The cover's 'brand new superhero' is Captain Universe. The original Captain Universe, a middle-aged former astronaut, who tangled with the Micronauts, has a heart attack. His son takes him to Cape Canaveral (Kennedy?), where he's treated at the base hospital. The doctors & nurses start behaving like zombies (sorry, Zuvembies), and turn into Ditko shadow people (Ditko readers know what I mean.) The Captain Universe powers will transfer to the former Captain Universe's son, next week.

I've got several of the monthly comics, which I might review tomorrow, if I can be bothered!

Phillip

Anonymous said...

Be bothered Phillip - its nice to have a bit more to read about the comics on a Friday.

I have actually read the issue of She-Hulk that Spidey & He-Hulk cover is taken from.
You must just be reporting back on the opening segment, because the original does feature Man-Wolf, who was in his sword & sorcery phase as the StarGod of the Other Realm.
Btw, Steve was mistaken (I know - who'd have thought?) as the geezer with the 'tache on the cover isn't the Stranger, but actually the wizard with the shadow cloak, Lambert.

Which frankly is a rubbish name for a wizard, but apart from that its an enjoyably mad comic - not at all like the rest of She-Hulk's original run (well, that I've read anyway) - as you'll find out in the coming weeks. She-Hulk is great in it, going on about how she's the strongest woman in the world while beating up loads of barbarians.

On the subject of barbarians - and enjoyably mad comics - that fella nicking Conan's style on the cover of the Chiller Pocketbook is surely Korrek, Steve. Although for some reason Marvel UK have re-coloured the cover of Fear #19 so his hair is blue.

-sean

Anonymous said...

Having also read Stan Lee and John Buscema's "My Song And My Sorrow" from the issue of My Love that Young Romance Pocketbook #4 cover is taken from, I can reassure the music lovers among Steve Does Comics regulars that despite appearances that is not actually Rick Jones playing guitar.

-sean

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

Only three pages of DD in Spider-Man and Hulk but how many pages of DD in Valour? There's some double dipping going on there!

Anonymous said...

Really nice Michael Whelan SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN cover. Here in the States, we saw it as the cover of KULL AND THE BARBARIANS #1. That comic had been put on the schedule before Roy The Boy could whip up a proper ‘First Issue Fantasmagoria’, so it’s loaded with reprints — and the cover was a Conan piece Whelan happened to have in his portfolio when he came ‘round the Bullpen looking for work. Roy told him ‘give him a scar and a headband and I’ll buy it’. It actually looks much better here — it’s darker and moodier. It’s a little too bright and the colors more saturated on the Kull cover.

b.t.

Anonymous said...

Phil, I have never heard of the Modular Man! Once again I have been stumped.
I intend to google him, as soon as I finish this beer.

That cover of the Hulk up there...any of you guys remember that old Marvel T-shirt that had him on the front with with a rope in his hand for some reason? And then the back of the T-shirt had him pulling a little rubber ducky on wheels (or something like that)?
I think that Hulk image is where that T-shirt came from.
I dunno.
I always dig vintage Kirby Hulk.

Charlie, or anybody else reading this from the upper midwest, batten down the hatches. A polar vortex has finally arrived. I knew it was comin' sooner or later.
It is as inevitable and harsh as the judgement of the Celestials.
Yesterday it was 40 F out, snow was melting and today my God.
It was like a scene from Dr. Zhivago out there.

M.P.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

I dare say that is one hell of a Savage Conan cover!

Though I am not subject to venalities, Charlie is and he is bemused by the Man Thing cover... is it a brazier or a halter top?

MP - As Charlie stares out the balcony his eternal soul is reminded of France November 1812 Moscow, America December 1944 Bastogne, Charlie December 1986 Graffenwoehr...



Colin Jones said...

Steve, by coincidence I was watching 'The Thing From Another World' on BBC iPlayer just a few days ago and that's the film which ends with the famous line "Keep watching the skies, KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES!" but those words were uttered by the bloody annoying reporter Scotty rather than any wise man. Was it wise to broadcast to the world about an alien invasion which would surely cause international panic? Only 13 years had passed since the notorious Orson Welles incident!

The important message in the Conan monthly might involve the upcoming revamp of the mag which resulted in a brand new look. And Steve, you didn't mention that the Conan cover has ditched the idea of the cover image being squashed in a box with the contents listed down the side which had prevailed since late 1978 at the start of the "Marvel Revolution".

Charlie Horse 47 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

M.P., I take it "like a scene from Dr Zhivago out there" means theres a lot of snow, and not that the workers round your way are rising up in bolshevik revolution and hanging the kulaks...?

-sean

Charlie Horse 47 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charlie Horse 47 said...

Sean - Just cold, snowy and wind... it's the wind blowing the fine snow in wisps that give the outside that surreal feeling and you are thankful you are not a Dakota Sioux riding it out in furs and a leather tee-pee.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Speaking of venialities, anyone familiar with Steranko's 1973 calendar, lol?? How did he not get skewered with copyright infringement of super girl and captain america (girl)???

Anonymous said...

Sean, I was referring to the scene where Zhivago has deserted the Red partisans and is trying to make his way back through a blizzard to Yuriatin.
Don't worry about the Kulaks, they are still in control and oppressing the proletariat.

Charlie, '86 Graffenwoehr was a couple years before my time.
I did spend a considerable amount of time there and I seem to remember a large amount of mud. A sea of mud. Everything and everybody had to be sprayed down when it was over.
Same with helicopters too, I imagine!

I used to read savage Sword of Conan when I was a teenager. You guys in the U.K got that too?

That Savage Action cover is fantastic. And Moon Knight no less. That would be hard to resist buying.

Colin, I much prefer the 1982 remake of Thing From Another World, but the original, with James Arness as a giant walking, marauding carrot has it's charms.
Everytime I watch The Thing from '82 I feel like those guys are gonna figure a way out of that situation, but they never do.

M.P.

Steve W. said...

MP, we did indeed get the original SSoC mag in Britain. Those Boris Vallejo covers sang to me.

MP and Colin, I love the 1950s and 1982 Thing movies equally.

Charlie, I don't think I've ever seen that calendar.

Colin, I must confess I'd totally failed to notice the change in cover format for SSoC. I always liked the sidebar. It made the covers look neater but there's no denying it reduced the impact of the artwork.

Charlie, I believe it is indeed a bra.

MP, I too have never heard of the Modular Man before. I'm sure you're right about the origins of that Hulk image. In the original, wasn't he pulling a cart loaded with comics?

B.t, thanks for the info on where that cover comes from.

Dangermash, despite what it says on the cover of Valour, I don't think Daredevil's actually in it.

Sean, thanks for clearing up the Stranger misidentification and also identifying Korrek.

Phillip, thanks for yet another awesome summary. It does strike me just how insanely caught-up with the American books the British ones are. It looks like, within a week or two, I'm going to be covering Spider-Man stories in his UK book before I get the chance to do so in his US one. At this rate, Marvel UK are going to have to get old Killraven tales and redraw him with a Spider-Man head.

Anonymous said...

Colin - "Watch the Stars!" - which is similar to "Watch the skies!" - was the tag line of Star-Lord comic

As regards Steve's overview of Dr.Who Monthly, incidentally last night Elizabeth Sladen had a bit part (as a policewoman) on 'Public Eye'.

Also on the subject of Dr.Who - I'm not a big Who follower, but for those who are - the Haunted Generation website highlighted a new Dr. Who fanzine about 10 days ago. It was called something like 'Vroop Vroop'.

Phillip

Colin Jones said...

Phillip, I know about the Haunted Generation thanks to the article and regular column in 'Fortean Times' magazine but I've never visited the website. I must remedy that oversight!

By the way, a review of the monthlies would be most welcome if you choose to do it. By this stage I'd abandoned the Marvel weeklies and was reading only the monthlies but I soon stopped reading the monthlies too in favour of the US Marvel comics.

Anonymous said...

Sean & Colin requested some reviews. So blame them for this!



'Savage Action' # 4

'Savage Action' this month is pure class! The woman on the cover is Ellen Brandt - the femme fatale who betrayed Ted Sallis. She's even more money-obsessed than Sabbath Raven, the woman who bankrolls Dominic Fortune's antics! On the subject of the green, folding stuff, we also learn how Marc Spector got enough money to become millionaire Steven Grant. In fact, Night Raven's the only story not money related! You get all this, and a review of the 1980 Film & Fantasy Convention, too!

First, Man-Thing. Ted Sallis & his girlfriend are in the Everglades. They are nervous, as government agent, Hamilton, is uncharacteristically late. Hamilton is coming to collect a secret formula & a vial, from Sallis. Overcome by nerves, Ted & Ellen use a swamp buggy to go to Hamilton's place, where the agent's sprawled dead on the floor. At this point, two armed goons appear, and Ellen, Ted's girlfriend, steps across to join them! To Ellen, Sallis never interested her - she just wanted his mysterious vial, so she could sell it!

Sallis pretends he's knocked unconscious, playing possum. Then, kneeing one of the goons in the face, he escapes, driving off into the swamp! His car crashes into the swamp, where the vial's chemicals (a super soldier formula) combine with the swamp water to create the Man-Thing. The mirk monster kills one of the goons, with a back-breaking knee drop, and Ellen Brandt's face burns at his touch, disfiguring her forever.

This story's Gray Morrow art is outstanding, with an almost photo realistic quality.


Night Raven.

Last month, Night Raven's stool pigeon, Shady Deale, had just been killed by Ox & Sapper, the Chessmaster's goons. Night Raven trails Ox & Sapper to the Chessmaster's hideout, a brooding warehouse (villains love brooding warehouses!) The Chessmaster makes his escape via a revolving wall, leaving Ox & Sapper to shoot it out against Night Raven's twin Colt 45s! Night Raven wins, but his arm takes a bullet. The reader learns Night Raven can see in the dark!

As this encounter begins, Night Raven & the Chessmaster call out chess moves (in old fashioned descriptive notation) to each other.

Night Raven hisses: "Kings'ssss pawn to King's Four. Check!"

Chessmaster replies: "King to King's Rook Five."

Now, Night Raven's King's pawn itself can't check Checkmaster's King, if it's on the Rook's file. So, the check must be another piece's attack, revealed, when Night Raven's King's pawn ( blocking that piece's "line" of attack) is advanced.

Dangermash is our resident chessmaster. What's he think? I've several theories, but let's return to the story!

A wounded Night Raven retreats to his inner sanctum - a secret room, absent from any architect's plans - on the 13th floor of a city office block. Night Raven is horrified to find the Chessmaster waiting for him! This is a move worthy of Carrion - or tantamount to a villain discovering the Batcave! Nor does the Chessmaster ask why a mysterious mist fills Night Raven's room (atmosphere!)

Bearded in his lair, the Chessmaster tells Markham (another goon) to take Night Raven's Colt 45s. Markham takes the guns, but Night Raven burns one of his raven brands into the goon's forehead (like he used to do in Hulk Comic), killing him. Night Raven then finishes the game, checkmating the Chessmaster!


Dominic Fortune: The Big Top Barter Resolution.

David Michelinie's scripting a Wein & Chaykin plot. Terry Austin's now doing the finished art, over Chaykin's layouts. Anyway, it's very different look. Terry Austin doesn't really do "brooding & mysterious." Let's see what happens.

Anonymous said...

Dominic & Sabbath meet Dum Dum Dugan. Nick Fury's strongman is in a fight, smashing up Sabbath's shipboard casino, causing the lady some distress. Sabbath begs Dominic to do something about it. He agrees, but only if she'll cancel his 7 months back rent! Dominic stops the fight & he Dugan become fast friends, throwing the goons wanting Dugan's circus into the ocean ( Dugan's owns a circus, which he used as a marker in game. Dugan now owes it to "the House" - i.e. Sabbath - to pay for the damages.)

Spencer Keene, a smarmy English guy with a monocle & long cigarette holder (because all English guys have these), wants to buy Dugan's circus from Sabbath. Unfortunately, Keene patronizes Sabbath, calling her "a tender morsel, playing at commerce", and she tells him to stick it!

Spencer Keene gets angry & suborns a circus employee, disgruntled at Dugan. Keene wants the circus mentalist to help him crack several safes, rigged with explosives - the first of which exploded, meaning Keene acquired a vicious robot hand!

At Dugan's circus, the disgruntled employee creates a diversion, releasing a lion, so he & Keene can capture the mentalist. Dominic springs into action, on the stage, to save a girl from the marauding lion!


Moon Knight. Moon Knight really starts to hit its stride, as we start the Lupinar story. Moon Knight finds the Horus statue (which looks like Tut), and the story morphs into a connection with stolen plutonium. This happens in Doug Moench stories - don't try to understand it - just go with it!

The page count starts with Lupinar & his stooge, Smelt, reviewing slides of Moon Knight, in a 'know thine enemy' episode. They examine Moon Knight's weapons, girl friend, identities, origin - all in granular detail. Why? Because it introduces Moon Knight to new readers, with classy Sienkiewicz art, better than what they've had before! Werewolf - lycanthrope - Lupinar respects Moon Knight ("I've grown to respect this man of so many faces") and wants to fight him to the death, next month. Next time, before the showdown, Marc Spector faces a doppelganger Moon Knight. What does this do to someone with dissociative personality disorder - kill or cure?

The 1980 Film & Fantasy Convention has photos (black & white) of Sienkiewicz & Archie Goodwin - and some cosplayers.

I can't be bothered proofreading this for typos. If any words have an extra terminal "s" - or lack a terminal "s" - correct them yourselves!

Phillip

Anonymous said...

"a very different look"

"he & Dugan"

My concentration went in the Dominic Fortune paragraph. A large mug of tea is in order!

Phillip

Anonymous said...

"a very different look" - damn typos!

Phillip

Anonymous said...

"marker in a game" - damn typos!

Phillip

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

Re the chess. Yes you're bang on, Phillip. The pawn move must have opened up a line from a Bishop or queen towards the king. The techy term for it is a "discovered check"

Charlie Horse 47 said...

This is important!

If you're like me and wearing slippers all day during the polar vortex, you know they kind of get that funky odor!

Well, I learned you can put them in the freezer over night to kill the bacteria and it seems to work!

I heartily recommend everyone put their slippers in the freezer before going to bed!

Anonymous said...

I’ve never seen ‘Hawk the Slayer’, nor more than just a few minutes of ‘The Beastmaster’. Interesting that both of them (and Albert Pyun’s gonzo ‘The Sword and the Sorcerer’ too) were apparently intended to cash-in on the popularity of ‘Conan the Barbarian’ — but they were all released before Milius’ movie even hit the theatres! I’m not quite sure how that unusual marketing strategy came about. Roger Corman at least had the good sense to wait and see if a movie was a genuine money-maker before green-lighting his own cheapo knock-offs.

b.t.

Steve W. said...

Charlie, put tea bags in them when you're not wearing them. It works just as well and won't leave your slippers frozen solid.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Steve - New or used tea bags? And what flavor? English breakfast, Irish Breakfast, Earl of Grey...?

But the freezer is the cheap option and they don't stay cold long once taken out.

I mean, they're not the antithesis of Human Torch in FF104 wherein Johnny absorbs all the heat in the Baxter Building to turn it into a block of ice.

Steve W. said...

New.

Whichever flavour takes your fancy.

Anonymous said...

Was that issue of "Savage Action" black and white? I assume it was. I dunno what the title of that magazine was over here, but I'm sure I read that Man-Thing story somewhere. Probably on the internet.
I wonder why they changed the names of these magazines in the U.K. I get why why they changed the name of the comics, because they seem to have been published in serial and anthology form over there.
Maybe it was some obscure trademark deal.

Phil, like you I'm a big fan of these, ah, unconventional (for lack of a better word) characters from the darker corners of the Marvel Universe. Like Morbius, Man-Thing and Moonknight. That's what made Marvel in the 70's so cool. You never knew how weird it was gonna get.
It was a spooky decade.
They lost that vibe in the '80's. To me the delineating point was those Warlock/Thanos annuals. After that Marvel no longer that weird charm.

b.t., was "Sword and the Sorcerer" a turkey? I've never seen it. Something like that would have ordinarily been right up my alley as a kid.
Remember "Krull"?
Boy, that's a couple hours of my life I'm never gonna get back.

M.P.

Colin Jones said...

Phillip, thanks for your review of Savage Action #4 but unfortunately I never bought that particular magazine - in fact, I have no memory of Savage Action at all. But I'd been a regular-ish reader of Conan, Rampage and Marvel Superheroes since they'd began.

Anonymous said...

Phillip, I am impressed that you could be bothered actually reading the Night Raven story to keep us informed - that is above and beyond the call of duty.

I remember that Dominic Fortune at the circus from an issue of Marvel Premiere. Whoever put Terry Austin to work on Howard Chaykin's pencils should probably have reconsidered whether being a comic book editor was their true calling. Its hard to think of two more mismatched artists.
Although to be fair, probably anyone other than Happy Howie himself would have been a wrong choice for inker.

-sean

Anonymous said...

Tea bags in slippers...?!?
The north is a place of strange folk wisdom and arcane practices.

-sean

Colin Jones said...

Slippers are for people who drink Ovaltine and read the Daily Mail :D

Around the house I wear thick hiking socks and no slippers!

Anonymous said...

M.P. Yeah - black & white. Occasionally, the American mag "Savage Tales" shared covers with "Savage Action" (e.g. Ka-zar), but mostly they were very different. In upcoming issues, more left field characters join "Savage Action". In a very powerful Blade story, Blade plunges a stake in a female vampire - only to discover she's not actually a vampire ( leaving him wracked with guilt.)

Colin - watch this space!

Sean - totally agree! Dominic Fortune went from being an enigmatic adventurer to a "happy go lucky" type. Inkers/embellishers make all the difference.

Phillip

Anonymous said...

'Marvel Superheroes' # 370 & 'Rampage' # 32


First, 'Marvel Superheroes'. The cover features 'The Champions'. Why? The Korvac Saga - the greatest superhero story of its era - is at the crunch, yet 'The Champions' takes centre stage? Crazy. What's even crazier is the Stranger doesn't feature in 'The Champions' at all, this month. He's in next month's issue. It's like Spidey/Hulk Weekly's cover giving us Man-Wolf, when he's next issue's fodder! Again, crazy.

'Marvel Superheroes' & 'Rampage' are both Sauron/Lykos specials, this month, allowing readers to compare Neal Adams & Byrne, in their respective handling of him.

In 'Marvel Superheroes', the Neal Adams story gives you the origin of Sauron/Lykos - it's actually pretty good. Karl Lykos is a doctor who treats Alex Summers (Havok), using hypnotism. Lykos has got a beautiful nurse, named Tanya, whose rich father hates Lykos, and opposes a marriage. When Lykos transforms into Sauron he's like Morbius, in that he's compelled to feed ( on mutant energy, usually), even if his victim must die. In the end, Lykos jumps off a cliff, to save Tanya from Sauron, in a final act of redemption.

In 'Rampage', the X-Men (minus Jean & Hank) are chilling out in the Savage Land, seeming surprisingly unconcerned that Jean & Hank are supposedly dead. Karl Lykos gets his hands on Storm & transforms into Sauron. Here, Sauron's more of a pantomime villain.

In 'Marvel Superheroes', the Champions' credits say: "And introducing the pulse-pounding pencils of John Byrne--artist." The fact that these credits need to tell the reader Byrne is an artist may mean that Champs story was an early outing - possibly his debut - at Marvel!

The story starts with the Champions' sky-car losing control - an event that's noticed by its designer, scientist Bill Foster. Foster transforms into Black Goliath, and stops the sky-car from going off the edge of a building (with Ice-man's help.) Dark Star joins the team, leaving Natasha wondering if she's last year's model. Bobby Drake's luck with Dark Star is as bad as with Lorna Dane - i.e. terrible!

The Champions join Ghost Rider, Hawkeye, & Two-Gun, in Arizona, to battle some shadow people (Captain Universe also features shadow people this week...but I digress.) Their earlier encounter with the Hulk is recapped, but now the shadow soldiers of Warlord Kaa have a new power - they can possess human minds by inhabiting their shadows.

Anonymous said...

Ghost Rider's hellfire works against them (incidentally, Byrne's Ghost Rider isn't as good as his other Champions - but...early days.) Dark Star's powers, in contrast, make her as vulnerable to Lord Kaa as Colossus is to Magneto. Ice Man counters the shadow soldiers, by blocking their cast shadow (this is what Kull did, in 'Forces in Combat'!) When Lord Kaa inhabits the Angel, Worthington flies higher & higher, causing Kaa's shadow to diminish until the villain eventually dies. Finally, Hawkeye uses a blast arrow, coated with Ghost Rider's hellfire, to blow up Lord Kaa's flying saucer. The end.

Actually, it's not the end. In the final panel, Black Goliath is attacked by Stilt-man, looking for the Stranger's box (?)

'Marvel Superheroes' has a long, boring message from the editor, about Marvel UK's indigenous stuff being appreciated in America, and monthlies going to have text sections devoted to fan topics, by a mystery columnist each month. Young readers have short attention spans. They don't want to read this guff! Incidentally, upcoming monthly, 'Blockbuster', never gets a mention. An oversight, perhaps?

In 'Savage Action', Moon Knight found the Horus statuette. In 'Rampage', in contrast, Marvel two-in-one gives you the 'real' Horus! This story's point is the Thing isn't as strong as the gods, but he's got more "moxy" - and "moxy" is what counts in the end - c.f. 'Contest of Champions'. A giant monster, named the Devourer, defeats Thor, and goes after Horus (whom Ben calls "Horace".) Ben takes a gamble, picking injured Horus up, and jumps off the Egyptian equivalent of the rainbow bridge, out into the icy void. The Devourer jumps after the Thing, but a weak Thor throws his hammer after Ben - who grabs hold of it, returning to the safety of the bridge, leaving the Devourer falling into the trackless void!

The Luke Cage story in 'Rampage' is unusually interesting. The story starts with Cage interviewing a widow, who's a former client of his (Cage took the wrong track, chasing her husband's killer.) She got rid of her husband's personal effects, but there's some stuff in a bank safety deposit box. Cage interrupts a bank robbery, and also finds a match book with Spanish writing on it. The Hispanic villain, who killed the widow's husband, has two personas - Mr.Luck & Mr.Death. Mr.Luck, because he's the gambling czar of New York, with lots of operations but - uncannily - things always resolve themselves in his favour - he never gets caught! Mr.Death, because he dons a costume, a bit like Rampage, and spins a dial on the costume, offering his victims a choice of touching one hand or the other. Pick the wrong one, and they get electrocuted!

'Rampage' has an advert for the Sheffield Space Centre, when it was on 485 London Rd, Heeley Bridge - not the Wicker, where it was situated in the later 80s.

Also, in 1981, it seems Leeds Comics Mart was held at the Griffin hotel, Boar land - not at that place at the back of the Merrion Centre where it was later held.

Phillip

Anonymous said...

Boar Lane - not Boar land!

Phillip

Anonymous said...

Don't know that I'd call the Korvac saga the greatest superhero story of its era Phillip - when it started Judo Jim Starlin's Warlock only just came to an end with his Avengers/Two-In-One twofer - but yes, it does seem odd MSH didn't cover feature it at this point.

But they couldn't, because as shown in last month's post, the cover was taken from Avengers #175 and as we'll see in four weeks - SPOILER ALERT - the next issue's came from #176.
Somehow, Marvel UK came up with a whole extra part of the storyline! How ever did they do it?

If it wasn't a mistake, I'm guessing they went with the one they did because although Champions #11 was Byrne's debut issue, his first cover was #12, and the Stranger does at least get a mention. Hey, I'm not saying its a good reason.

-sean

Anonymous said...

I remember ads for the Sheffield Space Centre.
We used to joke about it - ha, like they have a space program in South Yorkshire.

Imagine how stupid we felt when it turned out the first Brit in space actually did come from Sheffield.

-sean

Anonymous said...

Sean - two caveats/provisos.

1.) In my mind, I always associate Jim Shooter's Avengers with my reading it in Marvel Superheroes Monthly, when, in fact, it happened somewhat earlier. So, 'its era', in my memories, is later than it actually was.

2.) I deliberately included 'superhero story', to make a possible exception for Warlock, whom I don't class as a superhero. But the Warlock stuff I'd consider best is the Magus Saga, not the Kree/Skrull, Spidey/Thing story. I think the latter had some flaws.

The Dark Phoenix Saga was good for that era, too, but I'd put Korvac ahead. The ending of Dark Phoenix was a bit of a let down, whereas the Korvac ending was excellent.

Sean - if ever a joke falls flat, use that old Monkhouse gag: "When I said I wanted to be a comedian, people laughed at me. Well they're not laughing now!"

Phillip

Anonymous said...

They didn't even laugh at me when I wanted to be a comedian Phillip :(

The ending to the Korvac saga is pretty good, but I'm not sure its a single thing really. Its been a while since I've read it, so maybe I'm misremembering, but after the Guardians of the Galaxy turn up, doesn't it become more of a running sub-plot than a saga for a while, as the Avengers do their usual thing like fighting Ultron and whatnot...?

Funnily enough, reprints of Judo Jim's Avengers and Two-In-One annuals will be covered here before long, so probably better to leave getting into the Warlock/Thanos thing til then...

-sean

Anonymous said...

Sean - the mind plays tricks, but I remember as a kid being captivated by Carl Sagan's 'Cosmos', which was on tv at the time, and going out, looking at the stars in the night sky, imagining being Starhawk, up in the heavens (sorry, flights of fancy!) But Jim Shooter's storyline with Starhawk, Korvac, etc all blended with Carl Sagan's 'Cosmos', & the mood of the time(zeitgeist), etc. Being slightly older, you had maybe a teenage, rather than childhood, reaction. Maybe you had my kind of reaction to the Kree Skrull War (a few years earlier)! Plus, to me, pretty much all of Jim Shooter's first run was brilliant, even the interludes from the main story.

The ending to Korvac - the young reader was left with the question, "Was Korvac right (or rather a baddie?), or not?" - then left to examine the story, and think about it, alongside Moon Dragon & Thor, as they view the terrible aftermath. There's evidence on both sides, which the young reader must weigh up, and make up their own mind.

Many writers have used this technique - Shooter's not the first - but, nevertheless, it's good. Even as a little kid, I got this - but Sean Howe completely misunderstood the point of this ending. That book of his...sheesh!

Phillip

Anonymous said...

I thought the Korvac saga was fantastic, but mostly the issues that Perez drew. Remember that battle between Starhawk and Korvac? Incredible. Perez' stuff at that point was beyond slick and he could do cosmic opera as good as anybody ever did.
He could take a mediocre story (I'm not saying the Korvac run was mediocre, it was pretty good) and make a great comic out of it.
It was small wonder D.C. tapped him to draw Crisis. He could depict situations that would be hard to draw without having it look ridiculous and make them seem cosmically epic.
I guess if you needed somebody to kill off Supergirl and the Flash, he was the guy to do it.

As for the moral question of what Korvac was trying to do, which Phil alluded too, I'm not sure I understand what Korvac was after. Was he trying to single-handedly take over the universe? In my experience, autocracy always yields bad results even if the ruler in question believes his intentions are noble.
Everybody thinks they're the good guy.

...and Shooter was a bit of an autocrat himself, wasn't he? I think he was writing about himself.
He even tried to create a new universe of his own, so to speak, and look what happened with that.

M.P.

Anonymous said...

M.P. - totally agree about Perez - & the initial attempt by Starhawk to take on Korvac single handedly - astounding stuff.

Jim Shooter being an autocrat - not so sure. But - whether he was or not - to the story, it's irrelevant. Sean Howe (if my memory is correct) equated Korvac with Jim Shooter - and implied the Korvac Saga's "message" was trust power - i.e. Shooter himself. To me, this is garbage. Worse still, it's part of a pattern of garbage in Howe's book - drawing convenient links because they seem "clever", whether they are true or not!

Trying to spot writers in their characters is a bit silly - with one possible exception - but if I were to pinpoint one character in the Korvac Saga as Jim Shooter, it would definitely be Iron Man, not Korvac.

M.P. - I think your point, "Everybody thinks they're the good guy" is absolutely spot on - or, "Everyone's a hero in their own mind."

Phillip

Anonymous said...

Phil, I'm unfamiliar with Howe but you do make some good points.
Psychoanalyzing writers is probably best left to the professionals.
It's way over my pay grade, I can tell you that.

M.P.

Anonymous said...

I thought Howe's theory was that Shooter was the Beyonder?

-sean

Anonymous said...

Sean - p.214 & p.229 in the blue edition.

Phillip