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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.


Anonymous said...

You're right Steve - Blakes 7 does seem particularly underwhelming compared to the rest of that issue of Starburst.


Anonymous said...


'Iron Fist' - Doug Moench & Larry Hama

Iron Fist battles Triple-Iron, a "mad giant" with an electrified triple-nunchuku thingy, who must kill Iron Fist, to gain his freedom from the chamber where he's been held for nearly 10 years (Kun L'un appears every 10 years, so Meachum's prepared for Iron Fist's vengeance, right from the start.)

On the cover, Iron Fist's protecting a defenseless, supine girl (Conan-style). However, the story's girl's Joy Meachum, who only appears after Iron Fist's battle with Triple-Iron is over. Moreover, Joy's anything but a demure, shrinking violet-type.

Why is it giants - more often than not - aren't the sharpest tools in the box (okay, there are exceptions, like Hank Pym & also Black Goliath)? At one point, Triple-Iron starts referring to himself in the 3rd person (never a good sign), saying: "Ha! You think because Triple-Iron is large, he must be slow!" Yes - slow in the head!

At this point, the soles of Triple-Iron's boots are zoomed in on. When Triple-Iron's feet leave the floor, so too does the energy leave his weapon. In fact, Triple-Iron's chamber's his weapon's power source, conducting through the metal soles of his boots.

To the reader, this implies Iron Fist must defeat Triple-Iron by lifting him off his power source, like Hercules did with the giant, Antaeus. Instead, however, Iron Fist defeats Triple-Iron by flicking some electrical cables in his face. The concept about Triple-Iron's boots, & their connection to the floor/power source, instantly becomes redundant, with that tactic. So why introduce it to the reader in the first place?

Triple-Iron, however, is just the story's entree/starter - its main course is Harold Meachum! Iron Fist - ready to exact revenge - finds and confronts Meachum, the man who murdered his parents, only to discover both Meachum's legs have been amputated! Moreover, 10 years of anticipating Iron Fist's vengeance have left Meachum a broken man.

Harold Meachum's one of those annoying people, who must always show others he's the smartest guy in the room, and proceeds to tell Iron Fist how he knew of Danny's quest for vengeance, preparing all those traps & assassins.

The flashback, which follows, is very well done by Larry Hama, explaining Meachum's frostbite & amputations; and the Tibetan monk who visited Kun L'un, whom Meachum met, and who reported on Iron Fist's determination & progress.

Iron Fist, feeling pity for the broken Harold Meachum, turns away - whereupon Meachum demands Danny kill him, and draws a gun. At this point, the mysterious ninja, who saved Iron Fist last month, reappears, throwing a shuriken star, spoiling Meachum's aim, then impales him in his wheelchair, with a katana (Samurai sword).

With Meachum's death at another man's hand, Iron Fist loses his life's purpose, in an instant. Drax's feelings were similar, when Mar-vell robbed him of his life's purpose, by killing Thanos (another Doug Moench story!)

Suddenly, Joy Meachum walks in, and - seeing her father dead - is absolutely distraught. Joy vows vengeance against Iron Fist (she doesn't believe the ninja did it), even if she has to send a thousand assassins. Iron Fist doesn't try to placate Joy, as he remembers exactly how it felt, when his own father was killed, and he wanted vengeance. Sometimes empathy just isn't enough!

Anonymous said...

'The Inhumans' - Moench & Perez

The story's title is 'Panic in New York!' A close-up of Gorgon, Triton, Karnak & Medusa, clinging to a collapsing balcony, provides our opening scene. So, how and why are the Inhumans in New York? Will a flashback explain it, later on? But, an earthquake's the cause of this event - and quakes happen on the west coast.

As the Inhumans fall, Lockjaw appears & creates a force field to cushion their impact. Turns out the Inhumans aren't in New York yet - they're still in Attilan/the Great Refuge. So this confusing opening teaches the reader what? Never start a story with a close up. An establishing shot (long shot) is always helpful, to set the scene, before close ups can be employed. Storytelling 101.

Moments later, Crystal & Pietro appear, and everyone starts fussing over Lockjaw - except Gorgon who, true to form, rather than making a positive contribution of his own, just starts finding fault, slagging off Lockjaw. Moreover, we learn the tremor wasn't an isolated incident, so something must be done about it!

At this point, Black Bolt makes a dramatic entrance, soaring down from the "Tunnel Tower". Whilst Black Bolt was exploring way beneath the said tower (why does Attilan have so many unexplored bits? Do the Inhumans just twiddle their thumbs all day?), he discovered a mysterious monolith and, touching it, started the quake. (Un)Fortunately, only the reader is treated to this flashback, as Black Bolt can't speak - or else!

Gorgon, in his usual "I told you so!" manner, says the tremors must have happened as a result of Black Bolt exposing Iridia to the Terrigan mists, transgressing their laws. Medusa angrily tells Gorgon to shut his trap!

Medusa suggests a New York trip, to asks for the Fantastic Four's help. Crystal's reaction is "Whoopee!" but Black Bolt doesn't want her or Pietro on the mission. As usual, victim Pietro whinges that everyone hates him because he's a mutant.

Meanwhile, on (the Kree) Homeworld (isn't the Micronauts' planet named 'Homeworld', too?), the High Council (or whatever) decides it's time the Inhumans (whom the Kree created - Kree-ated? - sorry!) started earning their keep/paying their way/singing for their supper. However, one ordinary man on the High Council, a scientist named Falzon, dares to object, but nobody listens.

After the failure of the Kapt(o)roids, the High Council decides to send Shatterstar, a Kree trouble-shooter, with a helmet looking like Dr.Fate's, and a battle-suit designed to neutralize the Inhumans' powers. Strangely, in the centre of his chest, Shatterstar's costume has an emblem like an empty Trivial Pursuit pie - maybe he's poor at quiz games!
Doesn't the Kree High Council think the Inhumans are worth sending Ronan or the Sentry? Don't answer that!

Anonymous said...

In New York, Black Bolt leaves the Inhumans alone and vulnerable, to enter the Baxter building covertly(why don't superheroes ever use the intercomm?) Black Bolt left the weaker Inhumans defenseless, last month, too, with Blastaar. As a result, Shatterstar (you noticed how similar their names are, didn't you?)turns up, and defeats the Inhumans, using his battle-suit's powers, for each Inhuman. Medusa tells her team-mates to stop attacking Shatterstar one on one, but the idiots don't listen to her. Maybe she should have hired Whiplash, the Melter, and Blizzard - at least those 3 understand team work!

Falzon, the High Council's sole voice in favour of the Inhumans, also arrives in New York, but he's unable to stop Shatterstar.

Black Bolt returns and, seeing what's happened, starts giving Shatterstar a good kicking. It seems Black Bolt's harder than all the other Inhumans put together - even without opening his gob! Unfortunately, Black Bolt's final tactic is to defeat Shatterstar by pinning his wrists. Yes - I know Medusa did that last month, with Blastaar's wrists, too. (Incidentally, this wrist-pinning technique was pioneered by the White Tiger, against Jack of Hearts, in a classic battle, by Bill Mantlo - 'Deadly Hands Of Kung Fu' # 22).

The Inhumans' new pal from the Kree High Council warns Black Bolt to stop pinning Shatterstar's wrists, as his wrist devices will overload. Too late! They explode in Black Bolt's face! Shatterstar tells Falzon he's next for a kicking. Next month - we learn who Shatterstar really is - behind the mask/helmet.

'Omega the Unknown' - Gerber & Mooney (?)

Bruce Banner, having been pushed through the ice cream parlour door, lands at James Michael Starling & Amber's feet (they are at the counter, on stools.) Banner Hulks-out, whilst Amber, making like Peter Parker, photographs him trashing the thugs. Moments later, Omega, outside the ice cream parlour, in his workman's disguise, confronts the Hulk.

Jade jaws throws a newsstand at Omega, whose punch shatters it, also revealing his costume beneath the disguise. To Amber, she's lucked out, with photos of a new superhero, to flog to the highest bidder. Omega unchains a car-transporter, causing about 4 cars to topple on the Hulk, whereupon the cops are mightily impressed (premature, to say the least, as the Hulk's unhurt!) It seems Omega's mission's to protect James Michael Starling, at all costs.

Suddenly, Electro appears, zapping Omega & the Hulk, stunning them both. Electro's really tough, then. Maybe he could defeat Thor, too. Yet, Daredevil easily beat Electro. So maybe DD could defeat the Hulk & Thor (or Mike Murdoch), too! What a ludicrous episode!

Electro whisks Omega away in a helicopter, saying he wants him to repair that robot Electro nicked from Omega, last month. Why didn't Electro just contact Machinesmith? - he fixes robots all the time.

Amber's annoyed, because her camera ran out, right before the "money shot". With a half-frame camera, she'd have had twice as many shots!

When Amber returns to the parlour, Ruth is distraught, as James Michael pitched over, "Like he'd been hit by lightning." Like last month, we see a sympathetic reaction, between Omega & the boy. Next month - "Burn While You Learn!"

Paul Neary interview - Everything Marvel's done in the past is wrong for the future. I will recreate the comics world anew, heralding in a new Golden Age - based on 2 mysterious guys with the same first name. Actually, he didn't exactly say that - but that's what it leads to!


Steve W. said...

Sean, it's the age-old debate, "Which was better; Blake's 7 or Ringo Starr's Caveman?" Obviously, Ringo Starr's Blake's 7 would have been the ideal.

Phillip, thanks for yet another mammoth summary. The Inhumans' strip was such a disappointment to me when I read it.

Anonymous said...

Phil, I always liked Omega. Something about the character strikes me as, I dunno, poignant. I think Gerber was a closet Superman fan. Under that crumpled, cynical veneer beat the heart of a kid. Although at nowhere near the power-levels of Kal-El, he was one kid's personal superhero. Whom among us couldn't have used a guy like that in our corner, growing up? Particularly if the likes of the Hulk or Electro are rampaging around. Or even just the neighborhood bully or the local pederast. Heck, Omega even looked like Superman.
Remember another Gerber creation, that guy Aquarian? Didn't he land somewhere in the swamps in an alien pod with the super-powers and the mind of a child? Again, Superman from a different angle. There were legal rumblings from D.C. over that.
Of course, for Gerber, nothing was easy or simple, and the tragic nature implicit in Superman (or super-heroes in general) was brought to the fore.
Your comments reminded me of this obscure character and make me wanna check out those back issues I do have.
Or at least google the guy.


Killdumpster said...

Marie Severin did an excellent Hulk. So many of my favorite Hulk stories were drawn by her.

Iron Man vs. Hulk always got my pennies.

I had the Savage Tales (?) with the intro & origin of the Man-Thing. Bought it because I was a big fan of Ka-Zar's split-book with Doom, Astonishing Tales. I kept up with Man-Thing for years, in Fear and his various solo titles, but completely lost interest in him when he was made the "Nexus Of All Realities". If they would have kept him a mindless shambling monster that aimlessly wanders into situations, and had better artists (like Ploog), I would have stuck around.

One Christmas I got a nice pile of comics, and in it was the double sized reprint X-Men book that featured the 1st appearance of the Sentinels, and Beast's backstory. I was hooked. That was my first experience with the X-Men. They were always readily available on the racks.

The main reason I bought Champions was of Ghost Rider and Black Widow. I could care less about Herc, Angel, or Ice Man. Johnny Blaze was a wrong fit for a team book though. Ghost Rider seemed to be a better fit in the later "new" Fantastic Four appearances.

Killdumpster said...

Yeah, M.P.

Wundaar (?) Was introed in a issue of Fear. He thought Man-Thing was his mom. Can't remember how,but Ben Grimm ended up "raising" him in a couple early issues of Marvel Two-In-One. Must've had something to do with his battle with the Man-Thing in the first issue. I can't remember...

Anonymous said...

Killdumpster - You read my mind! I thought M.P. meant Wundaarr, too! I was going to mention it to him! Like Omega, another 'protector' figure ( Wundaarr pops up in Ms.Marvel vs Tiger Shark). Maybe Omega, Wundaarr & Aquarian ought to team up. KD - the only issue of Fear I bought was the one with the introduction of Mongu (giant barbarian who later fought the Hulk), in which Manny fused Mongu's giant axe to his hand!

M.P. - I think Gerber did some of the best continuing story lines (excepting Starlin's Warlock, which was tops), before Claremont's X-Men, & Jim Shooter's Avengers. Even then, Gerber's story structures got recycled, sometimes. You fight the 3 powerful lackeys, before meeting their mysterious boss, etc. Compare Angar, Ramrod & Dark Messiah, in Daredevil, to Power Man, Living Laser & Whirlwind, in Avengers vs Nefaria. Also, in the Defenders, Gerber's 'Sons of the Serpent' was a minor classic.

Omega may have looked better in America as, although Jim Mooney's art looks okay in colour (e.g. Ms.Marvel), it can - at times - look somewhat dull & dreary in black & white. A good inker would have helped. Re-reading Blockbuster after 40 years, I remember many scenes from Iron Fist, but have forgotten most of the Inhumans & Omega (although, with the latter, I remember the title's premise very well.) The art's the thing, I suppose. That's how you remember scenes.

Steve - As regards Captain America, although to many people, the death of Phoenix marked the Bronze Age's end, to me it was Iron Man knocking out the Hulk, with one punch. After Iron Man had defeated the Hulk (admittedly, at massive cost to himself), nothing was sacred, anymore! Later, Spider-man could turn black; the Hulk could turn grey; and, worst of all, Thor could be replaced by a giant cartoon sheep, with a hammer! Any line could be crossed, after Iron Man beat the Hulk, and nothing was off-limits, anymore. To me, for Marvel, Beta Ray Bill was worse than Ahab desecrating the altar at Santa! And I trace it all back to that Iron Man story!


Anonymous said...

I am, of course, referring to Spidey's costume turning black!


Colin Jones said...

Blake's 7 was much better than Sean gives it credit for but it should have ended with the destruction of the Liberator at the end of series 3. Continuing without Blake was bad enough but without the Liberator too?? And Cally was killed off at the start of series 4 so only Avon and Vila were left from the original crew.

Colin Jones said...

I remember watching the news when it was announced that Peter Davison would be the new Doctor and they said that his Doctor would be using lots of cricketing terms in his dialogue but I don't think he used any, did he? I know his outfit was cricket-oriented but that's as far as it went I think.

But nobody could fill the shoes of Tom Baker and Who went downhill from here till it was cancelled in 1989.

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

I think Black Bolt can be forgiven for not using the intercom!

Anonymous said...

dangermash - Excellent! A spot-on observation! I'm well off my game!

Colin - Blake's 7 was an absolute classic! I missed 'Life on Earth' every week, to watch it! Servalan vs Avon made Blake Carrington vs Alexis pale in comparison. It spawned so many classic lines - e.g. Blake complimenting Avon - Avon's rasping reply: "Don't try to manipulate me, Blake!"


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Gents - I just read Captain America 140! Charlie is just too busy to keep up with Relentless SDC's pulse-pounding schedule!

I will say it is top shelf, as far as comic books go.

Excellent, "plausible" story! Well written, no real logic gaps.

Are it great by Jazzy Johnny! Plenty of Romita "crackle!"\

I always found the Gargoyle a compelling villain. Didn't realize he was French and first appeared in Thor 107, per the footnotes.

Falcon is still a bit stand-offish and his girl friend a bit of a dick to white Steve Rogers.

The Soap Box was quite interesting!

Marvel is welcoming Reed Crandall and Al Williamson on board! But they only refer to them as former EC comics artists when Crandall (I don't know Williamson so much) clearly was a key player at Quality Comics during the Golden Age with incredible are on Blackhawks, Doll Man...

Question 1 - So what did Crandall draw for Marvel around 1971?

QUestion 2 - Would barely anyone reading Cap 140 have even heard of EC Comics?

Marvel welcome back Syd Shores as an original Cap artist from "the golden age."

Question 3 - When did Comicdom start using the terms Golden Age and Silver Age?

If anyone has any thoughts, Charlie would love to hear them.

(Well at this time I am watching Hungary (my mother's homeland) play Spain in women's water polo! How exciting! Live!)

Charlie Horse 47 said...

I know you chaps like your Stonehenge!

So... Let's talk about Woodhenge!

I was visiting my daughter in St Louis this weekend. We toured the Cahokia Mounds.

Points of interest:

It was basically as large / larger than Paris or London during it's height, around 1000 AD, with between 20,000 ish Natives.

Like the Mayans at roughly the same time, they simply disappeared. No known reason. (It was a relief to know white folks didn't kill them off.)

They had something now referred to as "woodhenge" which were logs as big as telephone poles sunk into the ground in a circle to plot the months of the year! I was kind of bugged by the term woodhenge, I mean isn't there a non-Euro name that could be applied to the natives? Is Charlie being overly sensitive???

Charlie Horse 47 said...

KD! My man! You've not told us that story before about the elephant! You did tell us about the mom who blasted her husband with a double-barrel and then showed up at the bus stop with her kid, covered in blood.

That was a story! Man o man...

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Nice to see the damsel riding a horse instead of Conan's leg, for a change...

Anonymous said...

Charlie - There's also a Woodhenge in the UK. It shows up when the tide's out, sometimes - or something. That furthers your case for a native American name for it! I've heard about
the Ohio mound builders, but not the St.Louis ones. It must have been a thing, back then!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Charlie - "top shelf" has a different connotation in the UK!


Colin Jones said...

Phil, I'm glad to hear you're a Blake's 7 fan - now we just need to convince Sean :)

Anonymous said...

Far as I know, Reed Crandall ended up doing just one job for Marvel in the 70s, a 7-page werewolf story in CREATURES ON THE LOOSE, which was later reprinted in GIANT-SIZE CREATURES #1 (first time I ever laid eyes on his work). This was practically the twilight of his career; after this, he only did a handful of stories for the Warren mags in the early 70s (and the quality of his art was deteriorating fast). A sad end to a spectacular career.

I could be wrong, but I don’t think Al Williamson did ANYTHING for Marvel around the time of this announcement. There were a few loose sketches in SAVAGE SWORD (around ‘74) and then bupkiss until he did the EMPIRE STRIKES BACKS adaptation (and later, tons of inks on books like WOLVERINE and DAREDEVIL)


Anonymous said...

What does ‘Top Shelf’ mean over there?


Anonymous said...

Colin - Blake's 7: a bunch of freedom fighters pursued by to an imperialist Federation. Blake's idealism vs Avon's cynicism. It's all there - in those 2 sentences!


Anonymous said...

b.t. - At the newsagent, magazines deliberately placed above the eye level of those for whom their content is not suitable/intended.


Steve W. said...

Bt, as Phillip has hinted, in the UK, "Top Shelf" means publications of a risqué nature.

Charlie and Phillip, there was also a Woodhenge near Stonehenge, and one in Germany.

Charlie, I always get Reed Crandall mixed up with Gray Morrow. So, whenever I think something was drawn by one of them, it always turns out to have been drawn by the other.

Colin, I don't remember Peter Davison's Doctor ever using any cricketing terms, although he did play cricket in one episode.

Anonymous said...

I still can't find Spidey & Hulk, but I've got Captain America (this really is the last paper one!) I could discuss it, soon, albeit I'm willing to wait for Killdumpster's elephant story, (which is already becoming the stuff of legend, and it hasn't even happened yet!), and/or Sean's erudite French Prog Rock tutorial.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

HI Gents...

"Top Shelf" always meant, to me anyhow, the best of the best! Like when you go into the wine store. The $150 Bordeaux is on the top shelf and the $3.99 Boones Farm is on the bottom shelf!

The big mound I saw, which took like 14,000,000 baskets of dirt weighing around 60 pounds each, was primarily so the king could talk to god by getting closer. And then when he wasn't talking to god, he was surveying his kingdom from on high, meeting and greeting visitors, etc.

Smaller mounds I think had more/less the same role but in subdivisions of the community. There were also a bit of buried bodies, garbage heaps... the usual stuff from the old days.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

It's nice to know that there is more than one woodhenge out there.

The Cohokia Indians went crazy with it... every few decades (?) they made a new circle and added 12 more poles eventually getting up to a 72 pole woodhenge.

I'm not sure what that would get you since now you are slicing the year up into less than what we call one week. Maybe they figured the year was divisible by 5 with 360 days?

That said, a little factoid I learned from a Harvard study is that math is/was different things to different societies. An Amazonian tribe "doubles" by actually "squaring." SO if you were to ask them to double the number 5, they would say 25.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

I can attest that in my News Agency in Crown Point Indiana, they put the porno back in the corner about 2 feet away from the two spinner racks.

IIRC, the porno was on the top two shelves of that section with Warren mags, Conan mags, etc. on the bottom shelf. Then to the right was the spinners.

SO... I can see the term top shelf having many meanings. But really here in the USA I only have known it to me "top quality" and that issue 140 of Cap was really a solid one. Especially comparing to contemporaneous issues of the FF, DD, Cap...

DD with the Stunt Master this month was only tolerable due to Gene's art. As a practical matter you really can't ride a motorcycle up the supporting cables of the golden gate bridge. So they should have really "upgraded" the Stunt Master and his bike or left him on flat earth chasing DD around like a bull does a matador. But that sounds silly doesn't it? DD as a Matador?

Anonymous said...

I just heard on the radio that a real, live Bigfoot has been captured in Northern California — it was wearing Amelia Earhart ‘s flight jacket, carrying a film-reel with Bela Lugosi’s Frankenstein screen test on it and it was listening to a mix-tape labeled ‘Sean’s Best Of French Prog’.
But I have a suspicion it might be a hoax…


Anonymous said...

When I was a wee lad, there was a big lumpy hill a few blocks away from our house which everyone called ‘Indian Mound’. My oldest brother said that Indians were buried there — but I mis-heard it as ‘Indians are MARRIED there’ , so I got this weird image in my head of a guy that looked like Tonto in a tuxedo getting hitched to his pretty Indian bride on top of the hill. Hey, i was only 3 or 4!


Anonymous said...

Wasn’t there even a US-based comic company called Top Shelf? I think they were an ‘Indie’ company, didn’t publish any porn, IIRC.


Anonymous said...

Well — I just now read the Wikipedia article on Top Shelf comics, and among acclaimed titles like Craig Thompson’s ‘Blankets’, they also published Alan Moore’s LOST GIRLS. So, they published a LITTLE BIT bit of porn, then.


Anonymous said...

Charlie & b.t. - Great stuff! Keep those gags coming! Lol!


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Well, well, well... Top Shelf Productions (comics) is headquartered in Bangor Maine.

There were at least a few jokes among "adults" that involved Bangor, maine, if you get my phonetic drift.

They were definitely top shelf jokes in the UK sense of the word, lol.

b.t. we have these trees all around us, notably were I grew up among the dunes on lake michigan that I think are Sumac. But the inside of the branch is a soft, sponge-like brown material, not wood. It was allegedly chewed like gum by Indians. I never tried it.

But, my dad's hick relatives near the Wisconsin border would chew tar in the summer. Yep. They would go to the edge of an asphalt street and take a gooey bit and chew it. I met one other person who grew up in that same area. She was one of my employees probably born around 1945. She blushed beet red when I asked if she chewed tar growing up. "Nope! Not me... no sir... I never chewed tar. No way. Nope!

Way too much protesting, LOL!

Anonymous said...

M.P. - That book you recommended about Norse mythology, a while back (written by Kevin Crossley-Holland), has dropped to 99p for the Kindle version - they are virtually giving it away! I've just bought my copy.


Anonymous said...


Top Shelf Publishing is now part of IDW but still based in Georgia. Brett Warnock was a bar tender when he started the imprint and named it in reference to the expensive alcohol kept on the top shelf. As Steve mentioned, most British readers will likely think of adult girlie magazines. It was a partnership between Brett and Chris Staros for many years, before Brett moved on and the imprint became part of IDW, under Chris's editorial. They've been Alan Moore's main publisher for many years, including From Hell and the last several volumes of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.


Anonymous said...

This is kind of funny, to me anyway. Yeah, Charlie is right; "top shelf" in the U.S. means the best, the highest quality.
But apparently, if I'm understanding this right, "top shelf" in the U.K. is, as Steve says, "risque."
Is that because they put the sex stuff on "the top shelf" in book stores so kids couldn't get at 'em? That's my theory.
So it seemed, for a moment, anyway, Charlie was talking about porno.

Phil, I am always amazed when ANYBODY remembers ANYTHING I recommend, (or say or write) but I think you have made a wise investment, my friend. My copy is old and dog-eared, and I hope you enjoy yours half as much as I have mine. It's one of those books I gotta pull off the shelf and revisit every once in a while.
"The Flyting of Loki" is hysterical and disturbing at the same time.

Like Charlie, I am a fan of the Grey Gargoyle I love that arc in the Avengers where he's portrayed as a dangerous, and VERY crafty and experienced opponent. His powers are goofy but he knows how to use 'em.
And I also wonder who came up with "Golden Age", "Silver Age", etc.
Some nerd, I bet.
What came after the Bronze Age and what era are we in now? Maybe the Scarlett Johansson Age.
It's a sad commentary of today.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

You know... the Grey Gargoyle is pretty straight forward. He turns folks to stone and also seemingly is high IQ (of course... he is french).

BUT he can only do this with his right hand and it only lasts one hour. So, you've got a lot of useful holes that make him powerful yet vulnerable.

I really am curious with Gold and Silver Age terminology started being used. I guess by the mid 1970s for sure since I recall reading it in The Buyers Guide for Comic Fandom.

What really threw me in the Soapbox of Cap 140, though, was Stan Lee referencing EC comics as the former Haunt of Williamson and Crandall.

While I know that in the mid 1970s, from my reading the weekly Buyers Guide that EC was considered the gold standard from comic creativity by comic geeks, I assumed that readership in the 1950s could not have been that high? I mean, why would Stan have mentioned EC comics? To me EC would have been very obscure to the average 12 year old reading a comic book.

I mean, Stan could have used Treasure Chest Comics as a reference for Crandall and probably connected more with the kids, since Treasure Chest was still being published in 1971 IIRC.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

MP - I'm taking my 86 year old dad to the Dakotas in September. The only 2 US states he's never seen.

Is there anything to see?

Anonymous said...

b.t. after you've been to Back In The Bronze Age I shall expect an apology for the implication that my French prog mix is a hoax.


Anonymous said...

Maybe My. Rushmore…?

I will have to check the links you posted first, and then we’ll see…

Anonymous said...

Well, Charlie, there's a Vietnamese massage parlor here in town my brother frequents on occasion.
I could probably get the address and phone number off him, if your dad is into that. Ask for the Deluxe Package.
Uh, he doesn't have a history of heart attacks, does he? He might have to sign some kinda waiver, for insurance purposes.
Other than that I got nothin', nothin' worth driving around endlessly for days on end, unless one's goal is to view a stark wasteland.

...oh, and Mount Rushmore, I guess. I forgot about that. But there's almost four hundred miles of empty between Sioux Falls and there.
The romantic nature of wide empty spaces wears off real quick, lemme tell you.
T.E. Lawrence woulda got bored.


Anonymous said...

Nice Nestor Redondo SSOC cover there, Steve.

I liked Red Sonja more in her first few appearances than after Roy Thomas introduced the metal bikini and all that farcical stuff about not copping off with anyone unless they defeated her in battle first.
Sonja's characterization seemed more plausible early on, by the standards of the genre - admittedly not a high bar to clear - which does tend to back up Barry Smith's claim to have contributed to the scripting (its clear from his own later work that he's a decent writer).


Anonymous said...


Captain America Weekly's glory days are over. It's got 5 titles, so each story gets fewer pages. Nevertheless, this comic is...better than I expected. Also strange is each title has parallels with Blockbuster monthly!

'Captain America' - Claremont, Michelinie & Zeck

Stern & Byrne have left Captain America. At a first glance, the art's merely average - not up to the previous standard. Zeck's done good stuff before - but Byrne's left big shoes to fill. One bugbear of mine is Captain America's head faces away from the reader, in about 3 panels, thus Cap is an emotional blank,in said panels, robbing the action of incidental drama.

Normally, to me, good art can rescue a weak story - but good writing can't rescue average art. Nevertheless, Claremont & Michelinie do a pretty good job! Claremont starts with lots of specific locational details, to give a feeling of verisimilitude/realism. I know other writers used this technique, at the time, but Claremont's laying it on with a trowel - and it works really well.

I mentioned parallels with UK's Iron Fist monthly - well, this Captain America story's actually called, 'BLOCKBUSTER!'

Steve Rogers has taken Bernie for a date, to a old-style dance hall, where they are dancing to big band music. The music starts Steve's mind spooling back to WWII, with poignant memories resurfacing. Cross cut to a brownstone - again, lots of very specific locational details, for gritty realism. Steve & Bernie's date continues with a French meal where, reading the menu, Bernie notices Steve's not unfamiliar with the French language. Steve plays it down, saying he spent "a lot of time in Europe", when he was young - no kidding! More cross cuts to the brownstone. A romantic horse & buggy ride through the park ends Steve & Bernie's night on a high.

Steve takes Bernie home, but their romantic moment is shattered (is this a Kull story?) by an arson attack! (Didn't Moon Knight's mansion get fire-bombed recently, too?) Steve immediately changes to Captain America (his chain mail costume was under his sports jacket and shirt, all through the date - this, to say the least, seems implausible!), and evacuates all the residents from the brownstone.

- To Be Continued!

'Dazzler' - only Cap & Thor have credits, this week!

Round one of Dazzler's Hulk battle! Yes - Captain America Weekly gives you 2 Hulk battles this week - Dazzler vs the Hulk, & Iron Man vs the Hulk!

Once, the Hulk was a cornerstone of Marvel's mythos. Moreover, the point of view in each story reflected this. Len Wein put you inside the Hulk's head, and readers identified with the misunderstood 'monster'. By 1981, however, the Hulk was becoming more an opponent to glorify other heroes, rather than the central Marvel character he used to be.

Dazzler (in a cowgirl hat) is performing at 'Gordon University', when the Hulk appears. Allison's uses her light powers to slow the Hulk down. She then dodges a Hulk punch, which hits the auditorium's control panel, giving the Hulk an electric shock which knocks him unconscious - just like in Blockbuster monthly, when Electro stunned the Hulk with a bolt of electricity.

This is ludicrous! The Hulk has faced ZZax (?) - I forget the spelling - and other similar foes, withstanding electricity many times. Why is he vulnerable to it, now? At that rate, Thor could win every Hulk vs Thor battle, with a lightning bolt. So could Storm!

Dazzler, distraught that the Hulk may be dead, touches the jade giant, to try to revive him. At this point, the Hulk twitches, regaining consciousness, and this merest shrug throws Allison across the room!

The Hulk runs off - tv series style - with Dazzler in hot pursuit!

To Be Continued

Anonymous said...

'Iron Man'

It's Iron Man vs the Hulk round one. You only get 4 pages, with big panels, so not much happens. Spoiler alert - the final super-powered punch happens next issue - I assume. some realism is injected, as Iron Man admits he's scared of the Hulk, as he's always lost against him before. Then you get the scene with the Hulk smashing up the St.Louis arch - did Charlie see that famous landmark, on his trip to see the St.Louis mounds & Woodhenge? Answers on a postcard. The reader must wait until next week, for the crunch!

'The Fantastic Four' - no credits, but obviously Byrne.

The Thing's sitting on a bar-stool, at Clancy's Irish pub. This is followed by an incredibly accurate transcript of how Irish people speak. The barkeep says: "An' me bottles is all tremblin' like leprechauns what's lost their pot-o'-gold." I've visited Ireland, and every single person I met spoke exactly like that - not!

Suddenly, there's a massive earthquake - exactly like what happened in the Inhumans, in 'Blockbuster', when Medusa suggested the Inhumans ask for the Fantastic Four's help. The Thing steps out of the wreckage, and sees New York's all but destroyed - it reminds Grimm of his time in London, during the blitz.

Cross cut to Johnny Storm - the quake interrupts his date (another Kull-type private moment ruined). Then, as the Human Torch, Johnny rescues some falling bystanders - or something.

Everyone heads to the Baxter building - turns out the earthquakes are happening worldwide.
Reed Richards has several theories, but no solution as yet - so even if Medusa had found Reed, he doesn't know everything!

Supposedly, the world destroying earthquakes are caused by an insignificant little man, wearing a bow tie. Some insignificant nobody gaining world destroying powers seems a bit too much like the Molecule Man, to me. Or maybe the 'Anything Man', in the Defenders.

'Thor' - Wein, Simonson & Dezuniga

It's Thor vs Blastaar (whom the Inhumans fought in Blockbuster, last month). It's that old trope about separating Thor from Mjolnir, for more than a minute. Why is it that Mjolnir sometimes returns to Thor's hand, like a boomerang, and sometimes it doesn't? Also once, during a Tana Nile story, Thor was manacled against a wall for ages, yet never transformed back to Don Blake! But, I digress...

Anyway, Blastaar keeps Thor away from Mjolnir, but Thor manages to flee to an alleyway. Seeing puny Don Blake, who pleads Thor ran away, over a fence, Blastaar declares he can't waste any more time, and must continue on his master's mission. Blastaar always seems to have masters, whose missions he must complete. Blastaar had another 'mission' in the Inhumans. Has he ever considered becoming self-employed?

A gang of street toughs has nicked Don Blake's walking stick (Mjolnir). They say things like 'Foxy lady', 'sweet mama!' and call Blake, 'Jack' - because that's how street gangs speak! Just as the gang's leader hits Donald Blake with the walking stick, Blake grabs it, and becomes Thor, whereupon the gang heads for the hills. I seem to recall this isn't the first time Thor's encountered street gangs - but that's another tale...


Anonymous said...

an old style - damn typos!

Anonymous said...

Allison uses - damn typos!

Anonymous said...

Some realism - damn typos!

Colin Jones said...

I'm currently reading The New Statesman Summer Special and there's an article called "How Marvel Conquered Culture" which I'll be reading tomorrow. Perfect for Sunday morning.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Hats off to Sean and his posting on Prog Rock at Back in the Bronze Age! That's some top shelf research there Sean! I'm digging it!

And, fwiw, your first link is exactly what I imagined Prog Rock / Progressive Jazz to be! In no way would I have ever considered all those bands folks listed. Not that I had a definition of Prog Rock that I could state concisely but if you can sing it, I figure its not Progressive enough, lol.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Sean - I'll go so far as to say that posting on French Prog Rock was Plus que parfait!

Anonymous said...

Steve, when you were writing your reviews of the issues showcased here, did you actually sit down and read that collection of romance comics?
Man, to me that sounds like a JOB. Like it must feel like WORK. Something you don't wanna do but you gotta.
I'm guessing you skimmed them stories, Steve. No man's sanity could withstand such a brutal assault.

Charlie, I was a bit too flip when I was answering your question about your dad and you visiting South Dakota.
There are things to see along the way. Wall Drug, for one, which is hard to describe. It's in the middle of Bumf*** Nowhere and is a big tourist attraction. Road signs all along the interstate. One can shop for souvenirs, western gear, go to a number of restaurants and even catch a movie.
I bought a pair of moose-skin cowboy boots there once.
I'm not proud of it. Even in the early '90's it was a hard look to pull off successfully, and I wasn't up to it.
And then there's the Reptile Gardens. I haven't been there for decades but I'm sure it's still well worth a visit. It's the world's largest reptile zoo.
If it's got scales, smells weird, and would kill you without hesitation, they got it.
And lot's of other stuff too, I think.

There's probably a lot else. You and your dad might enjoy the road time together. And if you're like me, you guys might enjoy staying in a few motels. I always liked to.
People are rarely murdered in them.
Avoid western Nebraska. There are skeletons in rusted cars out there that broke down in the 1950's that no one has found yet.


Anonymous said...

Charlie, the best is yet to come in part deux.


Steve W. said...

Phillip, thanks for the new summary. As far as I understood it, if Thor throws his hammer, it comes back to him but if he drops it, it doesn't. And he only reverts to Don Blake if he's on the planet Earth.

MP, I must confess I didn't read the Young Romance comic for this post. I just used the power of Google to find out what happened in it.

Sean, I agree. Sonja worked a lot better in her first couple of appearances than she did once Roy came up with an origin for her.

Colin, the New Statesman does summer specials? I now have a vision, in my head, of them being sold alongside things like the Beano Summer Special.

Anonymous said...

Steve - Thanks for clarifying that; it seems obvious, now!

Colin - The name, 'The New Statesman', brings to mind Alan B'stard! Is the Summer Special A3 & glossy, like DC Thompson, or non-glossy, thick & chunky, like IPC? Or, glossy, like Marvel?