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Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Speak Your Brain! Part IV. The oldest comic in your collection.

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

Right now, my thoughts are all-consumed by the looming prospect of England vs Germany in Euro 2020 2021 but that won't prevent me from launching the latest edition of the feature the whole internet's talking about.

It's the one where the first person to comment sets the topic for discussion in the comments section below.

Will it be you?

You never know.

Thinking about it, you do know. It's me who doesn't know. However, I couldn't resist the chance to quote the last line of my favourite Bucks Fizz song.

If there are any other lines from Bucks Fizz songs I get an irresistible urge to quote, I shall, of course, be sure to announce it.

Sunday, 27 June 2021

Stalker #2. Darkling Death at World's End Sea.

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

Stalker #2
There are many times in the life of a sword-wielding battler of sorcerers that he may find himself being told to go to Hell.

Mostly, he ignores those sentiments.

Usually, because he's too busy murdering the person who's said it to him.

But the man we know as Stalker's cut from a more obliging cloth, as he's the one hero who'll take you up on the offer.

That's because he's on the hunt for Dgrth, the demon-god of warriors, who gave him the supreme battle skills he's happily making use of.

For, you see, in return for these skills, Dgrth claimed his soul as payment. And, now, as far as I can make out, our hero's out to claim a refund.

As part of this quest, he decides to pay a visit to a priest of Dgrth, called Prior F'lan, who's the one mortal who knows how to get to Hell.

Stalker #2, origin
Sadly, not only does the prior not have anything that resembles a priory but he proves to be totally unaccommodating and goes for the sacrificing-Stalker-to-his-god option.

Stalker doesn't like that and, with an assist from the obligatory maiden, Merilla, who slips him a knife, escapes from the cell F'lan has put him in and tortures the villain to extract the necessary info.

Stalker #2, sacrifice
If this was Conan, at this point, our hero would celebrate his triumph by giving Merilla a good seeing-to.

But Stalker has no time for such pleasures. Instead, he simply puts her on a horse and sends it departing while he prepares to single-handedly invade Dgrth's realm.

And that sums up the main problem with the tale. No matter how you dress it up, Stalker is a very dull character.

So devoid of charisma is he that you actually end up wanting F'lan to bump him off. Having a protagonist without a soul may seem a compelling idea on paper but, in practice, it gives us a man devoid of any spark, warmth, style or social skills.

Not only that but he doesn't even seem that good at fighting.

Stalker #2, is this a dagger I see before me?
The thing's drawn by Steve Ditko and Wally Wood which is always an appealing combination but, there's no getting around it, when it's the mid-1970s, you've had five years of seeing comic book swordsmen portrayed by the likes of Barry Smith, John Buscema and Alfredo Alcala and, in comparison, Ditko and Wood's more traditional approach feels too workmanlike to impress.

Likewise, Paul Levitz's writing is also uninspired, offering no twists or turns, as one-dimensional characters do and say the things we expect participants in these kinds of things to do and say.

In truth, possibly the only thing memorable about the tale is its title Darkling Death at World's End Sea which feels like something Don McGregor would have knocked out for a Killraven tale. Sadly, this is no Killraven.

In the issue's editorial column, Levitz (or possibly editor Joe Orlando) talks about his excitement over what's coming up in issue #7 but, sadly, it was not to be. Stalker only lasted for four issues and, with its total inability to engage the reader, you can see why.

Stalker #2, the end


Thursday, 24 June 2021

June 24th 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
***

On this day in 1981, we were, presumably, stirred but not shaken, as the latest 007 epic hit the big screen.

That epic was For Your Eyes Only which Wikipedia tells me was the fifth of Roger Moore's seven Bond films and the final one to be distributed solely by United Artists. I think it was also the first Bond film to feature the theme tune's singer in the opening titles.

An event that would, I'm sure, be of interest to Bond, that week, was the launching of the new HMS Ark Royal. I have total certainty that, even as he heard of it, 007 was planning to sail it into some far-flung corner of the world and make full use of its plane-launching capabilities, in order to bring justice to some megalomaniac or other.

But if aircraft carriers were on James Bond's mind, meat was very much on the minds of the nation's sports lovers, as BBC One broadcast the British Meat Games from Crystal Palace, an event which pitted Great Britain, West Germany and Poland against each other. You just don't get sporting events with names like, "The British Meat Games," anymore.

You do, of course, still get music charts and, on the UK singles chart, that week, Michael Jackson was reigning supreme with One Day in Your Life which I have the notion was a re-release from the early 1970s.

Over on the album listings, far less gentle fare ruled, as Motorhead's No Sleep Til Hammersmith smashed its way onto the chart, at Number One.

Marvel Action #13, Thor

I know nothing of this one, other than that Thor's battling the Destroyer who is, presumably, still possessed by the spirit of Balder, Dr Strange is fighting for his life and the Human Torch would appear to be in sensational solo action.

Marvel Super-Adventure #8, Daredevil

Daredevil's not happy about Starr Saxon knowing his secret identity.

And that leads to a round of horn-headed soul-searching, mostly based around him sitting about, recounting, to himself, the story of his origin, thanks to Roy Thomas and Gene Colan.

Elsewhere, it looks like the Panther's still having trouble with King Solomon's pesky Frog.

Future Tense and Valour #34, Conan

It looks like Conan's still confronting that city of short people who worship a giant killer bear. It's a tale that seems to be dragging on forever.

ROM, Captain Marvel and the Micronauts are also in this issue but I cannot say just what activities it is that they're engaged in.

Captain America #18

He may, once more, be denied the cover of his own book but Cap does, at least, manage to bump off Baron Blood, thanks to a quick dose of decapitation.

Unfortunately, the Baron's not the only one popping his clogs in this tale. So does Union Jack, although, in his case, it's from natural causes.

Elsewhere, Tony Stark's in Asia, investigating a string of murders at his Hong Kong facility, only to have a great big dragon show up and get homicidal on everyone's asses. This sounds like a job for Iron Man if anything does.

But doesn't it involve demonic possession of a computer, or something?

Back in New York, the Dazzler's activities are a mystery to me.

The Blue Shield's up to something or other.

And, in their quest to return home, the Defenders have entered the citadel of Xhoohx. However, now, it seems, they must face the menace of the Unnameable.

Didn't the Unnameable feature in an HP Lovecraft story?

If so, is it the same Unnameable?

Or just someone with the same... ...erm... name?

SPider-Man and Hulk Team-Up #433, the Terrible Tinkerer

As the cover makes clear, Spider-Man's still up against the Tinkerer.

And that means he's still up against Toy.

And that can only mean it's time for Toy to get his comeuppance.

Which means the Tinkerer's about to lose his best friend and finest creation.

In what I think is her second adventure, the Cat finds herself battling the Owl in a tale I'm certain has only come about as a nod to The Owl and the Pussycat.

But let's fling ourselves into space because it seems Spidey and Adam Warlock must overcome the power of the Stranger.

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Speak Your Brain! Part III. Horror Comics.

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

What's that? It's time, once more, to plunge into the feature that's tearing the internet apart?

The one where the first person to comment sets the topic for discussion in the comments section below?

Whom could turn down such an offer?

Whom?

Sunday, 20 June 2021

2000 AD - May 1983.

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

I've often thought of keeping a diary, so I can record, for posterity, the thrilling events of my life, such as, "Wrote a new blog post today," and, "Wrote another new blog post today."

And you know who else has often thought of keeping a diary?

Not Adolf Hitler.

Not that Stern seemed aware of that, because, in May 1983, the German magazine startled the world by publishing the contents of his personal journal which turned out to be a forgery.

That was a mega-fail for the publication but, in the real world, that month, there was a startling triumph for Aberdeen F.C. who beat Real Madrid 2–1 to pick up the European Cup Winners' Cup, thus becoming only the third Scottish side to win a European trophy.

Also triumphing in his own field was George Lucas, as the 3rd (or 6th) Star Wars film Return of the Jedi was released in the United States, astounding us all with its daring use of teddy bears.

Over in Blighty, the singles chart experienced three Number Ones, that May. They were; True by Spandau Ballet, Candy Girl by New Edition and Every Breath You Take by the Police. I'm not that fussed about any of those songs but, given a choice, I'd probably go for the Police one.

Over on the British albums chart, events were dominated by David Bowie's Let's Dance, Spandau Ballet's True and Michael Jackson's Thriller, all three of which hit the top spot, in that order.

But what of the Galaxy's Greatest Comic? Could it prove to be as memorable as those LPs and singles?

To the surprise of possibly no one, it was still giving us Robo-Hunter, Rogue Trooper, Judge Dredd, Skizz, Tharg's Time Twisters and Nemesis the Warlock.

However, there was one new development.

And that was in Prog 317 which introduced us to the spectacularly anarchic and anti-social D. R. & Quinch, with D.R. & Quinch Have Fun on Earth, yet another product of the Alan Moore and Alan Davis content machine. For once, it's a new feature I actually remember.

I also remember liking it.

So, well done to me.

2000 AD Prog 315 Judge Dredd

2000 AD Prog 316, Judge Dredd

2000 AD Prog 317, Rogue Trooper

2000 AD Prog 318, Judge Dredd

Thursday, 17 June 2021

June 17th 1981 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

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

This week in 1981, London was reaching for the skies, with the Queen's formal opening of the NatWest Tower. At the time, the 600-foot structure was Britain's tallest building, although it has since been eclipsed by a multitude of others and had its name changed to Tower 42.

That ceremony was probably a nice day out for the Queen but what wasn't such a nice day out for her was that week's Trooping the Colour. It was there that teenager Marcus Sarjeant decided it was a good place to let off six blank shots in her vicinity, no doubt causing much concern to everyone except himself.

Meanwhile, on this night in that year, BBC One was showing the latest edition of Carl Sagan's Cosmos in which he educated us about the wonders of the universe. I recall one edition being dedicated to him proving that UFOs don't exist.

Oh, Carl, how little you knew...

Marvel Action #12, Thor vs the Destroyer

Thor's up against the Destroyer but it doesn't seem to be the story in which the Destroyer becomes the herald of Galactus.

Instead, it seems to involve Balder being trapped inside the antagonistic armour which is out to bump off his best mate.

Needless to say, it's all the work of Loki.

The Fantastic Four are battling the Elementals, although I'm struggling to remember who the Elementals are.

And Doctor Strange is still having his thrilling encounter with Brother Voodoo.

Spider-Man and Hulk Team-Up #432, Adam Warlock

The Tinkerer makes his deadly return.

And that leads me to conclude this is the tale in which his lackey Toy's revealed to be a robot, to the surprise of no one but Spider-Man.

The Cat's still doing things - but what things, I cannot speculate.

It also appears Spider-Man's stranded in space which is a little outside his normal beat.

But who cares?

It's a great excuse for Adam Warlock to show up and, as far as I'm concerned, anything's a great excuse for Adam Warlock to show up.

Marvel Super Adventures #7, the Black Panther

King Solomon's Frog continues to bedevil the Black Panther.

But what's that blurb say? Daredevil meets the Panther? Could it be one of those stories in which the Wakandan monarch has to pretend to be DD, in order to help preserve the man without fear's secret identity?

Whatever it is, it appears New York's finest are tearing the city apart in an attempt to find Daredevil, in the aftermath of the defeat of Starr Saxon, all brought to us by the trusty skills of Roy Thomas and Barry Smith.

Captain America #17, Baron Blood, Marvel UK

Baron Blood's about to put the bite on a mesmerised Captain America.

But fear ye not, pilgrims, because a brand new Union Jack's about to come to the rescue!

Iron Man's in Hong Kong. I've no doubt he's investigating trouble at one of Tony Stark's factories. That's usually why he shows up abroad.

But, hold on. Hong Kong? Isn't that in China? And doesn't that make it practically compulsory for the Mandarin to show up?

Elsewhere, the Dazzler's up against the Blue Shield.

And, finally, the Defenders are still on Lunatik's homeworld and about to pay a visit to the fortress of Xhoohx, in the hope that within it will be a way for them to escape to New York.

Future Tense and Valour #33

Captain Marvel's having trouble of an unspecified kind.

ROM's still having a Limbo contest with the Space Phantom.

The Star Trek gang are doing something or other, and so is Conan.

I can't help feeling this post has now just died on its backside.

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Speak Your Brain! Part II: Your Top Ten Marvel UK weeklies.

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

Here it is; the return of the awesome feature where the first person to comment gets to set the topic for discussion in the comments section below.

Who'll be the first to break their silence?

And when?

And how?

Sunday, 13 June 2021

Forty years ago today - June 1981.

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

Mere days ago, there was a solar eclipse.

I didn't see it.

It was cloudy. 

It's always cloudy when I want to look at the sky.

Will such torment never end?

Not if Fate has its way.

But what of the stars of our favorite Marvel comics? Forty years ago, were they being eclipsed by their multifarious nemeses, or were they, as, always shining brightly within their firmament?

Conan the Barbarian #123

Conan bumps into Murillo, for the first time in ages, only to discover that, having become ruler of a kingdom, the former rogue in the house has grown corpulent and lazy.

But not too lazy to lead Conan and his men on a mission to discover why his subjects keep vanishing.

This brings them to a cave and a battle for survival with a bunch of diminutive creatures ruled by a woman called Elaynia.

I assume she'll spend the whole of next issue trying to get her leg over with Conan because he has that effect on women, especially the bad ones.

Captain America #259, Blockbuster

A super-arsonist is on the loose in New York.

And only Cap can stop him.

I've a feeling it's all to do with big business and an insurance scam.

Fantastic Four #231, Stygorr

The Fantastic Four find themselves facing the menace of Stygorr, which I would be excited about but I'm struggling to remember just who he is.

It is, however, nice to discover the Negative Zone has a third inhabitant, on top of Annihilus and Blastaar. It was starting to look like the most lifeless place in the universe.

Incredible Hulk #260

The world's mightiest mortal finds himself in Japan and under attack by Glenn Talbot's demented flying tank. While, nearby, a film director blathers on and on about his principles.

Iron Man #147, Blacklash

Blacklash is still out to kill Tony Stark's security chief who's got a contract out on him, thanks to him having once aroused the wrath of the mob.

But Iron Man's not going to stand for such homicidal happenings.

However, Blacklash might have other thoughts on that matter.

Not that it does him any good because the security guard's still alive and well at the end of the tale and the mobsters have had their cards well and truly marked by the golden Avenger.

Amazing Spider-Man #217, Sandman and Hydro-Man

It's what you've always dreamed of. Sand and water combine to take on the webbed wallcrawler.

But not until after the villains have fallen out with each other because they've both taken a fancy to the same woman.

I believe this is the issue in which Peter Parker's Country singing neighbour Lonesome Pincus makes his senses-shattering debut.

Spectacular Spider-Man #55, Nitro

Nitro makes his explosive return.

And his daughter makes her first appearance, as she and her lawyer try to clear the villain's name, only to discover, the hard way, that the powder keg pensioner fully deserves his terrible reputation.


Thanks to the machinations of Loki and Karnilla, a snow giant's unleashed upon the streets of New York and, now, Thor has to bring it down.

I think this one has a subplot about a snowplough driver, or something.

Uncanny X-Men #146, Arcade

The X-Men are still prisoners of Dr Doom and Arcade, and each member of the team's been put in a prison specifically designed to thwart his or her powers.

Needless to say, it all looks hopeless for our mutant heroes.

Or is it?

At the issue's conclusion, it's a shock for Doom, as it becomes clear that one X-Man - Nightcrawler - has escaped his cell.

Daredevil #171, the Kingpin

The Kingpin's in New York, ready to sort out the gangsters who are out to get him.

But, first, he must deal with Daredevil who's aiming to get his hands on the evidence Kingie has against those gangsters.

This turns out to be a terrible idea, as the Kingpin promptly beats the hero up.

Rather less happily for the villain, his wife Vanessa's killed during his attempt to rescue her from his foes.

Avengers #208, the Berserker

An immortal Roman soldier called the Berserker is on the loose, armed with a bucketload of alien-created weapons.

How can the Avengers possibly hope to stop him?

And how does it all tie in with Rachel Palmer and the mysterious objects the Shadow Lord gave her, before his death, last issue?

Thursday, 10 June 2021

June 10th 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
***

Bad news descended upon Adam and the Ants, this week in 1981, as their single Stand and Deliver was finally dumped from the UK singles chart's top spot, thanks to the mega-smoothness of Smokey Robinson and his hit Being With You.

Over on the album chart, however, there was no change, with Stars on 45 by Starsound still ruling the roost.

What could topple the robotic medley merchants from Holland? What? What?

Marvel Action #11, Thor and Loki

My knowledge of this one is thin, to put it mildly.

I do know Thor's up against a very odd-looking storm giant, and the Fantastic Four are tangling with Diablo.

Meanwhile, Doctor Strange meets Brother Voodoo.

Bizarrely, the cover declares these tales to be "All new!" even though they're reprints. Clearly, the company has a different definition of the word, "new," from the rest of us.

Marvel Super Adventure #6, Daredevil

It's drama of the most nightmarish kind, as Biggie Benson's robot, having dealt with Daredevil, turns upon Biggie himself!

Let that be a lesson to all gangsters out there. If anyone offers you a killer robot, quickly run in the opposite direction.

Apparently, the Black Panther's up against the Ogar who's not a character with whom I could claim to be familiar. However, I suspect we're still heavily involved in adventures revolving around King Solomon's Frog.

Spider-Man and Hulk Weekly #431

Spider-Man's still trying to foil a predicted assassination attempt during a New York marathon - and finding himself having to rescue plenty of runners from their own carelessness.

Elsewhere, the Cat's still on the loose.

Judging by that cover, it would appear Spidey and the Hulk are in serious trouble in this week's Team-Up tale.

Captain America #16, Iron Man

Hooray! Tony Stark's regained control of his business, from SHIELD! I think.

But, now, he's got other problems on his plate because he must stop a rampaging Dreadnought, which makes me think we're heading for the return of Madame Masque, following her period of not being evil.

Elsewhere, the Dazzler and Defenders are still up to whatever mischief they're up to.

I'm willing to bet Captain America's still trying to stop Baron Blood killing everyone in a quaint English village.

Not that you'd know it, as the tale doesn't even get a mention on the cover of his own book.

That cover also promises us Nick Fury, though I suspect that may be in the pages of Iron Man's tale, rather than in an adventure of his own.

Future Tense and Valour #32, ROM

Thanks to the blundering incompetence of the X-Men - and Kitty Pryde in particular - ROM's found himself in Limbo and confronting the awesome power of the Space Phantom.

Why do I feel like I've said all this before?

Captain Marvel would appear to be battling Isaac the Living Computer. Isn't that the one on Titan? The one that Mentor built?

I possess some vague memory of it having gone mad and turning evil at some point. Maybe this is that point.

Elsewhere, Mr Spock's captured on Barak-7.

But I know not the current state of play when it comes to Conan and the Micronauts.

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

The Marvel Lucky Bag - June 1981.

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

Good God above! What was that you were confronted with in June 1981?

It was the sight of your local cinema bursting at the seams.

That's because it was struggling to contain a whole pile of theatrical awesomeness.

"But Pourquoi?" I hear you demand.

And the answer is it was the month which saw the release of the following movies:

Clash of the Titans, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Cannonball Run, Superman II (in the US and UK), Dragonslayer, The Great Muppet Caper and For Your Eyes Only.

Not only that but it also saw the re-release of a bunch of Herbie movies and a reissue of Freaky Friday.

Frankly, with all that going on, I doubt any of us had time to read any comics.

But that's not going to prevent me from taking a look at them.

The Defenders #96, Ghost Rider

Hooray! The Ghost Rider shows up in The Defenders!

And this is why:

The Defenders attack Ghost Rider, thinking him in league with the Six-Fingered Hand. But, upon discovering their error, they join with him to fight Asmodeus Jones who's out to give his fans' souls to Fashima.

Frankly, I didn't understand a word of that but that's a striking Michael Golden cover. So, who cares?

Plus, the Ghost Rider does feel like a character who belongs in a Defenders story.

Epic Illustrated #6

Neal Adams give us the cover, and a whole host of artists like Mike Saenz, Bob Aull, Phoebe Berry, Ken Steacy, Jim Starlin, Jean Bello, Marc Bright, Steven R. Bissette and Rick Veitch give us the insides.

Interestingly, Harlan Ellison is credited as writer on one of the tales, a thing called Life Hutch.

Hulk #27

It's the final issue of the magazine that started out as The Rampaging Hulk.

Does it go out in style?

I don't know but I do know it departs with a tale from Lora Byrne and Gene Colan, plus a story by J. M. DeMatteis and Gene the Dean.

There's also an article called Happy Accidents, featuring the work of Jack Kirby, Marie Severin and Earl Norem.

Moon Knight #8

It's another striking cover from Bill Sienkiewicz, as Moon Knight travels to Chicago to rescue Marlene.

Sadly, there's no information as to whether he rescues Boycie.

Anyway, he's also out to stop the villains who put a hallucinogen in the city's water supply.

ROM #19, the Space Phantom

Thanks to Kitty Pryde managing to fling him into Limbo, ROM finds himself up against the pulse-pounding terror of the Space Phantom.

Crazy #75, Flash Gordon

What's that? You'd have to be crazy to tackle Flash Gordon?

That's right! Crazy tackles Flash Gordon!

Savage She-Hulk #17, Man-Elephant

It's the fight we all wanted to see, as She-Hulk tackles Man-Elephant!

Well, at least she's not tackling the Elephant Man, which would be straight-out bullying.

Apparently, our heroine's still wanted for the murder of Jill Ridge but evidence may soon emerge that will clear her.

Sunday, 6 June 2021

Fifty years ago this month - June 1971.

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

Singer Jim Croce once opined that he wanted to save time in a bottle.

And it seems he wasn't alone because, in June 1971, the presenters of immortal children's TV show Blue Peter set out to save time in a capsule.

Sort of.

It was the month in which they buried a time capsule in the grounds of BBC Television Centre, to be opened in the far-distant future of the year 2000.

And there were others who proved to be equally motivated, for I remember our primary school getting us to do the same thing. Except, we buried ours in the school grounds, rather than BBC Television Centre, what with us not having access to that.

Regardless, I'm assuming this move was inspired by the actions of the Blue Peter team.

Is our time capsule still there?

Was the Blue Peter capsule opened in the year 2000?

I can furnish no answers to either of those questions.

Elsewhere, in Luxembourg, new negotiations began, to enable the UK to join the European Economic Community. And I can reveal that those negotiations were successful.

Also in the field of Politics, it was the month in which Education Secretary Margaret Thatcher ended the distribution of free school milk in state schools, earning herself the nickname, "Margaret Thatcher: Milk Snatcher."

My memory of free school milk is it was always left in crates, outside the school's front doors, meaning that, in summer, it was always rancid from the heat and, in winter, it was frozen solid. To be honest, drinking it was not one of the great joys of childhood.

Conan the Barbarian #6, Barry Smith, Devil-Wings over Shadizar

It's a landmark month in the life of 
Conan, as he first encounters the not-so-trustworthy Jenna. 

With her gift for making friends, it's not long before she's kidnapped to be sacrificed to a giant bat.

Conan saves her.

Believe it or not, she also saves Conan!

Still, she does steal his gold.

That's the Jenna we all know and love.

Amazing Spider-Man #97, the Green Goblin

Spidey must battle a resurgent Green Goblin while flatmate Harry Osborn battles (not very hard) against 
drugs.

How can our hero defeat his arch-enemy without the dastardly villain revealing his true identity?

Personally, I'd just break his neck and incinerate the body but that's why I'm not a super-hero.

And, also, why no one knows my secret identity.

Captain America #138, Spider-Man

Once Spidey, Cap and the Falcon all stop fighting each other, they team up to thwart Stone-Face's evil plans which seem to involve the building Glory Grant lives in.

It does strike me that cover's far too jam-packed, with the red and blue of Spider-Man and Captain America's costumes blending into each other, and the Falcon's outfit suffering the even worse indignity of blending in with girders.

Daredevil #77, Spider-Man

I really don't have a clue what's going on in this one but, if that cover's to be believed, it's clearly not short on incident.

Fantastic Four #111

Once again, a Reed Richards attempt to return Ben Grimm to his natural form has led to disaster, as the now-evil Thing goes on the rampage and turns against his teammates.

Not to worry. I've no doubt it can all be sorted out by a quick fight with the Hulk.

Incredible Hulk #140, Jarella, Herb Trimpe

Speaking of whom, the Hulk has his first-ever encounter with Jarella - and wedding bells are beckoning.

But will it bring ever-lasting happiness for our green-skinned love lummox?

I think we all know the answer to that one.

And so does Psyklop.

Iron Man #38, Sal Buscema

Iron Man with his arm in a sling and about to be killed by mere hoods with mere bullets?

Has our metal-clad mangler ever seemed more weak, feeble and useless than he does on this cover?

Thor #180, Hela

Not pleased with Thor's interference in her recent plans, Hela decides it's time for him to die, and sets off in search of him.

I think this issue is the first time we ever see her without her mask.

And, of course, she looks lovely because she's drawn by John Buscema who gives her little skulls where her pupils should be.

X-Men #70, Jack Kirby

Still in bad shape, after their battle with the Sentinels, the X-Men now have to contend with the power of Magneto.

Or, at least, Iceman does, as he's the only team member who's still standing.

Fortunately, the Stranger's on hand to thwart Magneto's dastardly plans.

Avengers #89, Kree/Skrull War, Captain Marvel

The Kree/Skrull war gets its overture, as Sal Buscema gives us a classic cover which, thankfully, completely misrepresents what happens inside.

Come to think of it, what does happen inside? I have memories of excess energy having to be siphoned from Mar-Vell, in order for him to survive but I struggle to recall just where that energy came from.

House of Mystery #192

That's Marvel taken care of but what are the month's highlights from their dreaded competition?

Neal Adams gives us a striking cover but, inevitably, doesn't draw any of the interior.

However, we do get tales of terror pencilled by Jim Aparo, Gray Morrow and Don Heck, with scripts by John Albano, Robert Kanigher and Mary Skrenes, in that order.

Wonder Woman #194

Relying on my awesome memory, I think this is one of those, "The princess has been kidnapped but, never mind, Wonder Woman looks just like her. So, she can get married on her behalf, instead," type stories.

This one would appear to be both written and drawn by Mike Sekowsky.

Batman #232

It's a momentous moment in the history of comics, as Ra's Al Ghul discovers Batman's secret identity.

You have to say he's a fast worker. As far as I can make out, this is his first-ever appearance.

Then again, how hard is it, really, to work out that Bruce Wayne's Batman? It's a miracle half of Gotham City doesn't know who he is.

It seems to also be the second-ever appearance of the villain's daughter Talia.

Detective Comics #412

I've no idea what happens in this one. I've only picked it because it has a Neal Adams cover.

I'm assuming it involves Batman tangling with a knight on a horse, in a tale written by Frank Robbins and drawn by Bob Brown.

I don't think I've ever seen Bob Brown draw Batman. I'm assuming he portrays him in a similar vein to the way Carmine Infantino did.

Superman #238

Believe it or not, I've actually read this one.

It involves some sort of sand replica of Superman that keeps showing up - and I'm fairly sure it's not just this issue it shows up in but that it keeps reappearing, for issue after issue, gradually draining all of Superman's powers into itself, as the waning hero tries to solve the mystery of its origin.

Sadly, I can't recall what that origin is or why the creature keeps showing up.

I'm fairly certain it ends up dying, though.

Possibly sacrificing itself to save our hero.