Tuesday 31 August 2021

Speak Your Brain! Part IX. 5 landmark non-fiction books from your childhood.

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

The Steve Does Comics Megaphone
Image by Tumisu
from Pixabay
Like Steve Trevor, yet another Tuesday washes up on the shores of the island paradise that is this site.

But that can only mean one thing.

The time has come to yet once more don the feature that spreads panic amongst perpetrators of evil, wherever they may be.

That's because the first person to comment below will set the starting point for today's discussion.

It may involve sport, art, films, music, myth, magic, mystery, sofas, mystery sofas, sausages, sci-fi, horror or seasides.

It may involve something completely different.

It may involve something completely the same.

The same as what?

I don't know.

But you know.

You know because you've got your finger on that Submit button, ready to tick all the boxes with crosswalks on them and launch the conversation that will not be silenced.

Sunday 29 August 2021

Songs About Super-Heroes!

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

As people have often noted, discussion on this site frequently drifts away from comics and into the realm of music.

This is understandable, as, like comics, music is a thing which often appeals most strongly to us in our youth.

However, there is a way to marry the two topics.

And that's to contemplate songs that are actually about comics. Especially comics that involve super-heroes.

Super-heroes. They're so great, who wouldn't want to sing about them?

Based on experience, 99% of artists, ever.

However, there are, thank God, exceptions.

Though, granted, I'm struggling to think of them.

The Beatles' Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill does, of course, mention Captain Marvel, while Mansun's 1997 LP Attack of the Grey Lantern is clearly inspired by the Green Lantern but doesn't feature any songs on it that are actually called Attack of the Grey Lantern. XTC had a hit, in 1981, with Sgt Rock (Is Going to Help Me) but, the last I heard, Sgt Rock isn't a super-hero.

However, of the few super-hero based songs I can actually think of, three stand out as my favourites.

They are:

O Superman by Laurie Anderson.

If 1981 made us despair at the tastes of the UK record-buying public, thanks to Joe Dolce beating Ultravox to the Number One spot, the year made amends, big-style, when O Superman also nearly hit Number One. Although finally stalling at Number Two, that was a near miracle, seeing as it's eight-and-a-half minutes long and is a big wodge of cryptic Vocoderiness over heavy breathing.

It's also great; completely hypnotic, hinting at a near-future that is cold, sterile and devoid of human contact and emotions. Not only did it seem extraordinary back then but has come to seem even more so with the passage of time, especially with claims, from some quarters, that its lyrics somehow predicted the events of 911.



Superman by the Stereophonics.

This stands out because I hate the Stereophonics and their brand of "Rock" that rarely seems to involve raising the tempo above dawdling pace.

However, this one's more than acceptable to me because, taut, lean, scathing and contemptuous, it sounds nothing like the Stereophonics, to such a degree that it's hard to imagine how it ever came to exist.



Magneto and Titanium Man by Paul McCartney and Wings.

It's a track which has had more than one mention on this blog, over the years, mostly thanks to its big fat bouncy bassline and razor-sharp guitar work. I still don't quite understand what the story it's telling is actually trying to say to me but who cares? It's a song about three Marvel master criminals, and that's good enough for me.



So, those are my nominations for great songs inspired by super-heroes. If you have any, make sure to mention them below.

Then again, you can also mention ones that aren't great or that you hate or that you've forgotten about or that you've never even heard of. You might want to tell me my selections are total cobblers. It's all entirely up to you.

Thursday 26 August 2021

August 26th 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
***

And now for a post that needs no introduction.

So, it's not getting one.

Apart from this one.

That'll teach it.

Spider-Man and Hulk Team-Up #442, Nitro

It looks like we've reached the tale in which Nitro's daughter keeps insisting he's just a harmless old codger whose criminal convictions are down to him being a hapless victim of multiple miscarriages of justice.

And Nitro keeps blowing everybody, himself included, to smithereens.

To be honest, when your dad keeps maliciously exploding, you should, at least, have the objectivity to realise he might be a super-villain.

Also, this issue, if the cover's to be believed, the Hulk's fighting the space monsters, which is a bit vague. That's basically every other Hulk story that's ever been printed.

Marvel Super Adventure #17, Nighthawk vs Daredevil

In the days before he was a Defender, Nighthawk was a villain and here he is, doing his villain thing, as he sets out to supplant Daredevil in the public's affections.

But it's all a cover for his attempts to be a one-man crimewave.

I have no doubt the man without fear will soon put a stop to his duplicitous schemings.

Meanwhile, the Black Panther's facing jungle terror in his Wakandan paradise, which can't be good news, especially as Wakanda can hardly be called a paradise.

I am intrigued by how the covers of this book love to boast of its stars' moodiness. Is moodiness expected to be the next big thing in UK comics?

Marvel Action starring Captain America #27, the Fantastic Four vs Ego

"Can you survive 32 pages of Marvel Action?" demands the cover.

Why? It's not that bad, is it?

What is bad is fighting Ego - and that's what the Fantastic Four are doing.

I'm sure that the people Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and the Dazzler are fighting are pretty bad too. But I don't know who those people are, so I can't say just how bad.

Tuesday 24 August 2021

Speak Your Brain! Part VIII. Your first Marvel comic. Impressions and reactions.

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

The Steve Does Comics Megaphone
Image by Tumisu
from Pixabay

Tuesday has, once more, come in through my bathroom window and is, no doubt, already on the phone to Monday.

But, surely, that can only mean one thing.

The epic moment is, again, upon us, in which the first person to use the comments section gets to decide what the topic of the day is.

However, preemption has occurred.

In the comments section for last week's feature, Phillip suggested we tackle the subject of your very first Marvel comic. What were your initial impressions and reactions to it and how did they differ from subsequent ones?

Sadly, Charlie had just beaten him to the punch by suggesting a totally different topic. So, to avoid disappointment, Phillip's question shall be the subject of today's discussion, instead.

So, feel free to get those typing fingers working and share whatever thoughts you have upon the matter of your first-ever Marvel comic.

Sunday 22 August 2021

Swamp Thing #23 - "No Sabre -- don't kill him!"

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

Swamp Thing #23, Sabre
In my youth, I only ever owned one issue of Swamp Thing.

And this is it. Issue #23. Bernie Wrightson's long gone and so has Len Wein but, in their place, we have Nestor Redondo, and Gerry Conway of Gwen Stacy murdering infamy.

So, what sort of mischief can happen in a swamp when that pair is in charge?

This kind of mischief. A man called Sabre's out to get the Swamp Thing.

Sabre's a man with a serious dose of The Grim Reapers, having a sword at the end of his arm and a lust for vengeance in his heart.

It seems it was the Swamp Thing who cost him his hand and now he intends to make the monster pay.

Unfortunately, for him, his employers the Colossus organisation are having none of that. They want him to capture Swampy alive, so they can have access to the scientific secrets that only his alter-ego Alec Holland can possess.

That's assuming, of course, that there's even going to be a Swamp Thing to capture, as our hero's suddenly remembered he has a brother called Edward who's also a scientist and who, therefore, may be able to help him find a cure for his condition. 

It does seem odd that it's taken twenty-three issues for him to think of this but there you go. I suppose life's filled with distractions when you're a vegetable.

Swamp Thing #23 Ruth Monroe
Swampy drops in on his brother, pausing only to give his glamorous lab assistant Ruth Monroe a fainting fit and then, together, the trio get to work.

One huge, multi-page dollop of exposition, that recaps the Swamp Thing's origin, later and they've cracked it. They're ready to work the scientific magic that'll turn a monster back into a man. You can't help feeling Bruce Banner should pay these people a visit.

Swamp Thing #23, Sabre gatecrashes the pool party
But, just as the process is starting to work, Sabre shows up and starts attacking everyone in sight, which turns out not to be such a bright idea, as it promptly leads to his death in a fiery inferno that, happily does the good guys no harm at all and, as the tale reaches its conclusion, the Swamp Thing is no more and Alec Holland is a man restored.

And now, because you the reader asked for it, a whole new era can begin in the saga of the Swamp Thing!

One that I'm assuming will involve Holland being able to turn into the creature whenever he needs to.

Granted, I don't know for a fact that that's the plan but I'm struggling to see what the new direction could be if that's not the case, unless they're planning on retitling the book Alec Holland.

Swamp Thing #23, Alec Holland lives again!
Whatever the truth of the matter, sadly, it's not going to be a very long era, as the series notches up just one more issue after this, before cancellation, suggesting that any wonders this issue's events were supposed to weave for the circulation figures failed to materialise.

Oh well. You can't win them all. So, does the series at least penultimate with style?

I'd say so. For the most part. As you'd expect with Redondo on pencils, it's a beautifully drawn tale, with Alec's new love-interest Ruth being particularly stylishly drawn.

When it comes to the writing, it's hard not to feel you've stumbled upon a significant issue; even though it's quite a slight one, clearly there to let new readers catch up, and to set things up for the future, rather than be a story in its own right.

Easily the weakest element is the villain Sabre who is, frankly, an ineffectual moron and proves to be more of a nuisance than a genuine threat.

Still, at least next issue, we're promised a big yellow monster for our plucky trio to have to fend off. So, that should feel a little more high stakes.

Swamp Thing #23, Ruth Monroe faints dead away

Thursday 19 August 2021

August 19th 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
***

In the absence of anything better to do, let us, without hesitation, rush, face-first, into the past and see what awaits us there.

Merlin and Excalibur, Marvel UK special

Well, here's an oddity, a summer special for none other than the king of wizards himself.

I don't know if this has been published to cash in on the recent release of John Boorman's Excalibur but I do know its contents have nothing at all to do with that movie, containing, as it does, material reprinted from Doug Moench and John Buscema's American strip based on the character.

Spider-Man and Hulk Team-Up #441, the Ringer

Now Spider-Man's in trouble. He's up against the Ringer!

Admittedly, I don't even know who the Ringer is but I'm sure he's a massively deadly opponent our hero's going to need all his famed luck to defeat.

On a less dramatic note, Peter Parker meets a new student called Greg Salinger.

Then again, for all I know, Greg Salinger might be the Ringer, in which case, it's not a less dramatic note at all.

But, speaking of drama, the Hulk's still up against a Dire Wraith that's been raised as a human child but has now discovered what it really is and is determined to more than live up to its heritage.

Marvel Action starring Captain America #26, Blockbuster

The book's star makes the cover and is up against the fiery felony of Blockbuster who, if memory serves me, is working for various dodgy landlords, to destroy their properties, for insurance fiddling purposes.

Elsewhere, the Fantastic Four find themselves in a battle with Ego.

And Thor's still up against Blastaar.

I can't say what The Dazzler's up to but I've a suspicion Iron Man may still be fighting the Hulk, just as he has been for several issues now.

Marvel Super Adventure #16, Daredevil, the Trio of Doom

Is there any hope for Daredevil? He has to face Mr Hyde, the Cobra and Jester, all at once but, judging by that cover, they're clearly using mirrors to confuse him and...

...well, that's not going to work, is it? I think they've picked the wrong hero to be trying a mirror-based stunt on.

Elsewhere, it would appear the Black Panther's up against the Vibranium Beast.

I cannot even speculate as to whether mirrors could fool the Vibranium Beast.

Tuesday 17 August 2021

Speak Your Brain! Part VII. Periodicals other than comics.

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

The Steve Does Comics Megaphone
Image by Tumisu
from Pixabay
Yet again, Tuesday's arrived to smash us in the face with the passage of time. But that can only mean one thing.

For, lo, the moment has come for the return of a feature that's spread panic in the corridors of power.

The first person to comment below will set the starting point for today's discussion.

It may involve sport, art, films, music, myth, magic, mystery, sofas, sausages, sci-fi, horror or seasides.

Or something else completely.

Only you can know.

Or at least you can if you're the first to take part.

So, hit that Comment button and transform the small part of reality that is the Stevedoescomicsverse.

Sunday 15 August 2021

2000 AD - July 1983.

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

It's currently a bit parky where I am, despite it being the middle of summer. But even I have to admit the temperature's positively sunsational compared to what they had to put up with at Vostok Station, Antarctica, in July 1983.

That's because it was the month in which the lowest temperature on Earth was recorded, bottoming out at a majestic −89.2 °C, otherwise known as −128.6 °F. There's no doubt about it, that would definitely put a frosting on your popsicle.

Elsewhere, that month gasped as Australian Dick Smith completed what Wikipedia calls, "his solo circumnavigation in a helicopter."

I'm assuming that's a circumnavigation of the world and not just a circumnavigation of the inside of his helicopter, as the latter achievement would be rubbish.

In the field of music, Madonna released her very first album which, by incredible coincidence, was also called Madonna.

She would, of course, go on to make a sort of mark in the field of Cinema but we'd all have to wait for that thrill because, film audiences, right then, were soaking up the brand new releases Staying Alive, Jaws 3-D and Krull

I must confess I've never seen Staying Alive nor Jaws 3-D but I will, from now on, always associate them with each other.

I have seen Krull but can't claim to have been bowled over by it, despite its strong supporting cast.

That month, the British singles chart was topped by just two 45s.

They were; Rod Stewart's Baby Jane and Paul Young's Wherever I lay My Hat (That's My Home). I do massively prefer the Rod track to the Paul Young one.

Over on the UK album chart, the top spot belonged to three LPs, that month. The first was Fantastic by Wham! which was then replaced by Yazoo's You and Me Both before July bowed out with The Very Best of the Beach Boys claiming the pinnacle.

But what of the greatest comic in the galaxy? Was it riding as high as all those records, and Dick Smith's helicopter?

Well, it was a month of zero change, with the only strips appearing in it being Robo-Hunter, Tharg's Time Twisters, Judge Dredd, Skizz and Rogue Trooper. Of those, the one that intrigues me most is the Dredd storyline, as it has werewolves in it.

Prog 325 contains a review of Return of the Jedi, and I do like the speech balloon on the cover of Prog 326; "Is this the death of a GI?" which feels like a very Marvel Comics kind of front cover declaration.

2000 AD Prog 323, Rogue Trooper

2000 AD Prog 324, Robo-Hunter

2000 AD Prog 325, Tharg

2000 AD Prog 325, Rogue Trooper

2000 AD Prog 326, Judge Dredd vs a werewolf

Thursday 12 August 2021

August 12th 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
***

Baseball has never been what you could call big news in the United Kingdom; even though one of our soccer clubs - Derby County - used to play in a stadium called The Baseball Ground, despite it being a venue blatantly not spacious enough to accommodate a game of baseball.

However, I've no doubt the sport was receiving plenty of coverage in the United States in this week in 1981.

And that's because it was the week in which the Major League Baseball strike ended and the sport returned with the All-Star Game in Cleveland's Municipal Stadium.

What was big news in Britain was the wedding of Charles and Di, even though it had happened the week before.

That was because flying to Number One on that week's UK LP chart was The Official BBC Album of the Royal Wedding. By crikey, the thing was selling so well it even managed to keep ELO's Time off the top spot.

Call me clueless but isn't a royal wedding primarily a visual thing; all about flowing dresses, big hats and golden carriages? Doesn't that make an LP a rather poor way in which to experience one?

But you know what there's never been a poor way to experience?

The musical career of Shakin' Stevens.

And that's good news, for, that very week, he was still Number One on the British singles chart, thanks to his version of Green Door. In his case, he was keeping Hooked on the Classics off the top spot, which I remember being an attempt by The Royal Philharmonic  Orchestra to jump on the Stars on 45 bandwagon.

Apart from the infinite majesty of Shaky, tracks I approved of on that week's UK singles chart were:

Love Action - The Human League

Ghost Town - The Specials

Water on Glass - Kim Wilde

Show Me - Dexy's Midnight Runners

Tainted Love - Soft Cell

Sat in Your Lap - Kate Bush

Arabian Knights - Siouxsie and The Banshees

Wordy Rappinghood - Tom Tom Club

and

Tempted by Squeeze.

For any who wish to study the issue, in depth, the full details of that week's UK singles chart can be found here.

Spider-Man and Hulk Team-Up #440

Now Spider-Man and Daredevil are in trouble!

They have to face the nightmare peril that is The Owl!

You know, the foe Daredevil regularly beats up, on his own, with no help from anyone else.

I would assume the Hulk's still on Easter Island and having to confront a noticeably unstable Absorbing Man.

But all of that, doubtless, pales into insignificance against the news that, this issue, we can win 9 Kodak 400 Extralite cameras.

A quick Googlé tells me they were the ones that used to lie on their side and required film cassettes instead of rolls.

Marvel Action starring Captain America #24, Thor vs Blastaar

This is the kind of drama we demand from Marvel, as Thor must battle with Blastaar, a man who makes Ulik look even-tempered.

Come to think of it, he also makes Ulik look like Blastaar. Did they have the same mother, or something?

I can shed no light upon the activities of Captain America, Iron Man and the Dazzler in this week's issue.

However, once again we're offered the chance to win those cameras!

Marvel Super Adventure #15, Daredevil

Daredevil's gone to the docks to seek out the secret HQ of Crime-Wave, which I believe to be in an illegal casino ship parked just outside American jurisdiction.

Needless to say, DD soon shuts down the villain's operations - but that doesn't mean he's not still missing Karen Page.

The Panther's activities, this week, are a mystery to me.

And those cameras are still up for grabs.

Tuesday 10 August 2021

The Marvel Lucky Bag - August 1981.

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

August 1981 saw thrills galore flood the cinemas of the world when both Condorman and An American Werewolf in London hit the big screen.

Although, rather more sombrely, that month also saw the release of World War One drama Gallipoli.

But who cares about any of that? What really matters to all true movie buffs is August saw the unleashing of Tarzan, the Ape Man, the film that proved Bo Derek could fail to be sexy even when she was soaking wet and naked. It also starred some bloke as Tarzan. It probably says it all when no one can remember who played Tarzan in a film that's about Tarzan.

Oddity of the month had to be Chu Chu and the Philly Flash, a film starring Alan Arkin and Carol Burnett. It would appear to be about a baseball player and a Carmen Miranda style entertainer and was one of the year's biggest box office flops, earning back just one-seventieth of its budget. I love a film that knows how to fail in style.

The Defenders #98

That's a very striking, if confusing, cover by Marshall Rogers.

Inside, as far as I can make out, the Defenders are called in when a town disappears through the Nexus of Realities.

When they get there, the gang battle a demon called Unnthinnk then travel to the home dimension of the Six Fingered Hand.

Is it just my imagination or have they done all this before?

Anyway, given all that's going on, it's perhaps no big surprise that Nighthawk quits the group, this month.

Epic Ilustrated #7, Barry Windsor Smith

Barry Smith gets the cover duties while the likes of Neal Adams, Pepe Moreno, Jim Starlin, Tim Conrad, Dean Motter, Jeff Potter and John Bolton get to draw the insides.

Neal Adams gets to write the story he draws. The mind can only boggle as to what that one's like.

Smith's contribution to the insides appears to come in the form of an interview conducted by Archie Goodwin, and samples of Bazzer's work.

ROM #21, the Torpedo

Hooray! The Torpedo's back!

In his guise as Brock Jones, the super-doer moves his family to Clairton, in an attempt to evade the Rocketeers.

But, when he sees ROM flying around, he mistakes the space knight for one of them, and the inevitable punch-up breaks out.

Savage She-Hulk #19

I've picked this one purely because I don't have a clue what's going on on the cover.

It would seem someone called Zapper accidentally leads She-Hulk into Doc's trap. When she breaks free, Doc injects Ralphie with a serum that transforms him into a monster who can fight her.

Tragically I've no idea who any of these people are.

Apart from She-Hulk, of course.

I know who she is.

Star Wars #50

Hooray! The comic that saved Marvel hits its 50th issue!

I can't say whether it's still saving Marvel or if the company's finances have recovered sufficiently for it to now be able to survive without the comic.

Not that it looks like it's going to have to, as the book's still going strong, as we fly into the second half of 1981.

This time out, we get a tale called The Crimson Forever. All I know is it's 40 pages long.

Marvel Premiere #61, Star-Lord

Star-Lord returns to Marvel Premiere, committing the ultimate sacrilege of displacing Doctor Who as its star.

Not that he manages to do so for long, because this is the book's last issue.

Seemingly, this month, the hero's up against a sentient planet but, as far as I can make out, not Ego. It's, therefore, probably not his dad.

Micronauts #32, a big bear

That Pat Broderick cover looks familiar from somewhere but I don't know why.

In the absence of any knowledge, I'll make a wild guess the tiny titans have to fight a giant, glowing bear, though I don't know why.

Sunday 8 August 2021

Forty years ago today - August 1981.

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

Can life have any meaning now the Olympics are over?

No, it can't. So, let's seek solace, instead, in nostalgia.

Avengers #210, the Weathermen

For once, it's not just the British who're obsessing over the weather, as nightmarish meteorological manoeuverings hit the whole world - including New York City.

What can be behind this frightful phenomenon?

It's a weather-monitoring satellite that's got too big for its boots and decided to control the climate instead of just watching it, also creating a group of mindless but super-powered slaves to enforce its global catastrophe.

Fortunately, despite having been shamefully ignored by her teammates, Jocasta comes to the rescue and saves the day while the others flounder around uselessly.

Captain America #260

Following a recent spate of escapes from it, Captain America agrees to be sent to prison, in order to put its security to the test.

Not only does he have to contend with his fellow inmates trying to kill him but, when there's an attempted breakout, what should Cap do? Does he stop it or assist it?

In the meantime, he helps, of course, to reform a young offender he's encountered there.

Amazing Spider-Man #219

Concerned about a recent spate of escapes from the local prison, Spider-Man breaks into it and finds himself behind bars and confronted with...

Hold on. This all sounds strangely familiar from somewhere.

Anyway, once in prison, he encounters an attempted breakout by the Grey Gargoyle and Jonas Harrow.

Needless to say, he thwarts it.

To my knowledge, he doesn't manage to reform any young offenders he encounters there.

Spectacular Spider-Man #57

When Will-O'-The-Wisp takes control of Killer Shrike's battle suit and forces the villain to kidnap Marla Madison, Spider-Man, inevitably, rushes to the rescue and does something or other to a machine, which sorts everything out.

My recollections of this one are a bit vague.

Thor #310, Mephisto

When Thor manages to quickly reform a gang of muggers, Mephisto's not at all pleased about it, spotting a potential threat to his realm if super-heroes suddenly start reforming bad guys, rather than just thumping them.

Thus it is that we get an epic confrontation between Lord of Evil and God of Thunder.

One which neither combatant has the power to win, even though the villain has the power to defeat the Silver Surfer and should, therefore, be able to beat Thor.

Uncanny X-Men #148, Caliban

It's a strange one in which a mutant called Caliban turns up and tries to kidnap Kitty Pryde because he wants a friend.

It's mostly strange because Caliban looks like Death-Stalker after a prolonged bout of drug and alcohol abuse. I'm not sure if that design choice is an accident or not.

Elsewhere, Cyclops is in solo action and on some island where he blunders across the latest secret HQ of Magneto.

Fantastic Four #233, the Human Torch in solo action

The Human Torch is in sizzling solo action, as he sets out to clear the name of a condemned man and discovers the real killer is none other than Hammerhead, who he should be able to make mincemeat of but, instead, makes a right old Horlicks of fighting.

Iron Man #149, Dr Doom

This is more like it!

For the first time I can remember, Marvel's two greatest armoured characters come up against each other, as Iron Man breaks into Latveria to forcibly reclaim some high-tech his company's illegally sold to Dr Doom.

While the pair battle, the villain's current Head Lackey takes the distraction as a chance to use his boss's time machine to send the combatants into a past from which they may never return.

Conan the Barbarian #125

Well, this is a downer.

Conan discovers the two amiable youths he's befriended and travelled with for the last few issues are, in fact, evil godlings and that he's now going to have to slaughter them.

Which I'm fairly sure he does.

Because he's Conan and that's what he does.

Daredevil #173

After a series of attacks on young women, it becomes clear the Gladiator's to blame and that Daredevil's going to have to stop him.

Except the Gladiator isn't to blame. It's some other wrongdoer who looks exactly like him.

At least, he does in his civvies. In his costume, he bears no resemblance whatsoever to the buzzsaw-bearing bruiser.

Incredible Hulk #262

It's a very odd issue in which Bruce Banner encounters a barking mad sculptor who wants to turn him into glass.

Needless to say, the Hulk soon smashes her plans to pieces.

That means there's time for him to have a second adventure. One in which Bruce goes to the aid of a child who's clearly being mistreated by his scientist parents.

Except he's not a child.

In a sinister inversion of the Superman story, he's a Dire Wraith who they found, as a baby, in a crashed space capsule and adopted as their own.

But, now, that Dire Wraith has realised he's not like other boys, and is out to create nothing but mayhem.

Thursday 5 August 2021

August 5th 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
***

Reader, plunge with me, once more, into the dim and distant days of the 1980s, as I push aside the Undergrowth of Time to discover what Marvel's British offshoot was up to exactly forty years ago.

Doctor Who magazine #55, Peter Davison

The book dedicated to the universe's greatest thwarter of alien menace introduces us to the brand new Doctor; Peter Davison.

Not that it needs to, as he's already a household name, thanks to his role in All Creatures Great and Small.

But how can he possibly live up to the legacy of Tom Baker? How?

Obviously, he can't.

We also get a look at The Power of the Daleks and Death to the Daleks.

Savage Action #10, Ka-Zar

Marvel UK's savagest mag is back!

And, this time out, we get 23 pages of action from Ka-Zar and Shanna, then an interview with the book's editor Paul Neary, Moon Knight battling the Mind Thieves, and the Daughters of the Dragon experiencing Safe Streets which, I'm, sure, is very nice for them.

Marvel Action #24, Captain America, Iron Man vs the Hulk

Tony Stark's attempt at curing Bruce Banner having succeeded only in making the Hulk more dangerous than ever, Shellhead now has to stop the brute - even if it costs him his own life.

And it very nearly does.

I can divulge nothing of what Captain America, Thor and the Dazzler get up to this week.

Incredible Hulk pocket book #10

I do believe this issue gives us the Hulk's first-ever encounter with the Silver Surfer, thanks to the trusty pencil of Marie Severin.

In it, the green gallivanter makes the rookie error of trying to force the Surfer to take him away to another planet with him.

And then he thumps the Surfer when the board-happy wanderer tries to cure him.

I have to say this is probably my favourite Hulk tale that Severin ever drew.

Blockbuster #3, Iron Fist

A wise man once told me there has to be a way to stop Blockbuster but, so far, no one's managed to do so and it, thus, hits its mammoth 3rd issue, this month.

Not only that but it gets to borrow one of Conan's cowering damsels, for its cover.

I can shed no light upon whether she appears inside the mag but I do know Danny Rand's fighting the nunchaku-flailing menace of Triple-Iron.

Elsewhere, Attilan's falling apart around the Inhumans' ears and, from the cover blurb, it would appear to be the work of Omega.

However, I don't think it is. I do believe, on the other hand, that Shatterstar may be involved.

Conan pocket book #10

I confidently predict that Conan's up against the menace of Mikhal Oglu, the deadliest swordsman in all of somewhere or other.

But, as Conan points out, they're not in that place.

And Conan likes to cheat.

More importantly, we get the first appearance of Red Sonja who's working as a mercenary in Makkalet and manages to save Conan's life, not once but twice.

Marvel Superheroes #376

Now the Champions are in trouble because they have to take on the nightmare threat of the Sentinels!

Frankly, I don't fancy their chances.

Beyond that, I can say nothing of this issue's contents, beyond knowing the original X-Men and the Avengers also have tales within.

Spider-Man and Hulk Team-Up #439, the Absorbing Man

Bruce Banner finds himself trapped on Easter Island, with an amnesiac Absorbing Man.

But how long can it be before the copycat crim regains his memory and the Hulk is once more unleashed?

Apparently, we'll also be told who the Link Brothers are, which is good news because I don't have a clue.

However, the cover tells us it's a new type of story, which sounds exciting.

Young Romance pocket book #10

It's that rare occasion where I can actually find a Young Romance pocket book cover online.

Not only that, I actually know what's inside it!

In I Can't Forget You, despite their age difference, Jan can't bring herself to forget Fred. I don't blame her. Who could forget Fred?

In So Much in Love, Gwen's friends think she shows her love for Ward too much. But, when Ward's offered a job that requires a single man, she pretends she doesn't love him, so as not to stand in the way of his success. Clearly, that woman's a moron.

In At First Sight! when Jimmy arranges a double date, Clara and Lonnie are hit with a huge big dose of instant love.

In How Do I Make Him Love Me? Jeannie pays for her dates with Hal but he doesn't seem interested in her. However, when she stops seeing him, he wonders why she won't see him. That one sounds riveting.

In Third Finger, Left Hand, newlywed Anne has difficulty coping with all the work required to support her husband.

In I Dream of Romance! Val's too busy studying to have dates. When she lands a babysitting job, she can't stop thinking about the man she sees there, in a photograph. When she wakes, she finds the man's actually there and kissing her. I think the police might need to be informed about that one.

In How Do I Love Thee? Connie likes Bennett better than any boy she's ever known and wonders if she's done the right thing in turning down his proposal. Then she meets Jeff and the same thing happens again. Then she meets Steve who writes romance stories and, bang, it's a whole other ball game!

Fantastic Four pocket book #17

Tragically, I don't have a clue what tales are contained within this issue but, apparently, they're collectors item classics from the Marvel Archives.

Savage Sword of Conan #46

It appears the Conan run which was playing out each week in Future Tense & Valour has now transferred to his monthly mag and so it is that the barbarian's agreed to capture and deliver the wizard Karanthes to Zukala, in exchange for Zukala bringing Bêlit back to life.

But, of course, when Conan discovers that can only happen if Zukala kills Red Sonja, our loin-clothed lothario decides it's time for a change of plan.

Marvel Madhouse #3

Marvel smashes us in the face with yet more mirth and mayhem.

Spider-Man pocket book #17, the Spider-Slayer

My vast intellect tells me the Spider-Slayer makes its dynamic debut, as J Jonah Jameson decides to use his cash to finally get the better of the wallcrawler.

Needless to say, he fails completely.

But that won't prevent the Spider-Slayer from making a seemingly limitless number of returns in future years.

The Empire Strikes Back #148 Luke Skywalker

Those pesky rebels decide it's time to destroy a battleship named in honor of Peter Cushing, as they attack the Tarkin!

Needless to say, they succeed and blow it into tiny pieces - just like they did with the Death Star. All I can say is I hope the Empire has good insurance.

Starlord is also in this issue and has just landed on a seemingly dead planet. What happens beyond that point in the tale, I cannot say.

X-Men pocket book #17, the Sentinels

I'm going to guess the Sentinels are in this one.

And I'm going to guess it's their first appearance.

Titans pocket book #10, Iron Man and the Freak

The Freak puts in a high-climbing appearance and, from that Gene Colan cover, I'm assuming it's his first one, brought about when Happy Hogan's exposed to "therapeutic" radiation after nearly being killed by the Titanium Man.

Elsewhere in this book, Captain America and Batroc the Leaper have teamed up to go in pursuit of Sharon Carter. What can this madness mean?

Future Tense #36

It's phasers on "Thrill" for all lovers of sci-fi. as Future Tense goes monthly.

Now, we can read about the adventures of the Micronauts, ROM and the Star Trek gang every thirty days, instead of every seven.

Marvel Super Adventure #14, Daredevil

You can practically cut the tension with a billy club, as Willie Lincoln discovers Crime-Wave's secret lair, causing the villain to set the Torpedo on him. Is it curtains for the blind vet?

Not while Daredevil's around, it isn't.

Apparently, in his strip, the Panther faces The Collectors but I don't have a clue who they are. I assume they're nothing to do with menace known as The Collector.

Rampage #38, X-Men, Chaos in Canada

I can't say what happens in the Avengers and Luke Cage strips but I do know that, in the book's main story, the X-Men fly out of Japan, before a freak storm diverts their plane into Canada where Alpha Flight are waiting to take Wolverine into custody.

Needless to say, it's all sorted out amicably, in a mature and grown-up manner.

Oops! No, it isn't. It quickly degenerates into a punch-up.

Chiller pocket book #17, Man-Thing

It looks like Manny's up against those space pirates who kidnap him and take him back into space with them.

I remember this being the last Man-Thing tale to feature in Marvel UK's 1970s Planet of the Apes comic.

I also have a feeling that comic never published the tale's conclusion, leaving our swampy super-doer floating in space, entombed in a block of ice.

Starburst #36, Escape From New York

"Bigger than ever before!" declares the cover.

And this month's humongous great issue features John Carpenter talking about Escape From New York, Joe Dante speaking of The Howling and David Cronenburg talking about Scanners.

There's also coverage of the return of Blake's 7 - and a look at Ringo Starr's new movie.

One of those topics seems rather less awesome than the others.