Sunday 31 October 2021

Ghosts #13. We challenge you to read...

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

Ghosts #13, Nightmare in the Sand Box
Just what kind of pitiful excuse for a website is this? It's Halloween and I've only just realised I've never reviewed a single issue of DC's Ghosts.

Ghosts was, of course, the most terrifying supernatural comic ever published because every single story printed in it was true.

I know this because it said so on the cover and I would never doubt the integrity of any company that would give me the chance to buy Sea Monkeys.

But this is where it all started for me; Ghosts #13, the first issue of this book I ever read, purchased from the now-demolished Sheaf Market.

Do the ghosts of long-gone stallholders now haunt that plot of land?

Who can say?

But I do know the dead haunt the pages of this comic.

And the first of its four tales is the cover story.

The Nightmare in the Sandbox sees an American agriculturalist who's moved, with his family, to Haiti, in order to teach the locals how to grow crops.

Sadly, it seems one of them is only interested in growing Evil.

DC Comics Ghosts #13, sandpit of horror
And that's the local witch doctor who curses the family's sandpit and does such a good job of it that the agriculturalist's two children are almost pulled into the depths of Hell, through its floor.

Happily, they're rescued in time.

But the family dog isn't so lucky and is never seen again - although its whimpers can still be heard emanating from nowhere in particular.

There's only one thing to do. Call in another witch doctor and let her sort out the first one by hoisting him by his own petard - not to mention his own sandpit. It's quite a rare tale for a DC horror title, centering on a black family, as it does. Although the front cover seems to have decided to not let you know that.

DC Comics Ghosts #13, a complete banker
Next, we have Voice of Vengeance in which a puppeteer's in the habit of revealing his audience members' secrets, during his act.

Sadly, when he reveals a  local banker's been stealing from depositors, that banker decides to strangle him so hard he'll no longer be able to speak.

However, that doesn't stop the puppets from speaking and, at the next night's performance, they don't hesitate to point the finger at him. This is easily the strongest of the issue's tales. However, it's also the one that least manages to convince you it might be true.

Next, we get The World's Mightiest Mystic, a one-page text story I haven't read because it doesn't have any pictures in it and my tiny mind can only read stories that have pictures in them.

DC Comics Ghosts #13, joyous laughter
Now, we get Have Tomb Will Travel in which a career criminal doesn't live to regret killing a man and disposing of him in a vehicle destined for a car crusher.

Disastrously, for our crook, the car's metal is recycled into a new automobile. One which he just happens to buy - and it's barely five minutes after that before it starts to laugh at him and crashes itself into a cliff, killing him. I've checked and this was written well before Stephen King's Christine.

DC Comics Ghosts #13, Nazi hoard
Finally, we get Hell Is One Mile High in which a wounded soldier in World War II Germany's left in a seemingly deserted castle while his friend goes for help, only for that wounded soldier to then encounter a murderous German whose nice daughter helps our hero escape and gives him her ring while she's at it.

Readers of horror comics will not be stunned to discover that, when that soldier returns to the castle, with his platoon, it's a burnt-out ruin and has been for months. This is easily the weakest of the tales and, basically, just runs out of steam at the end, as though no one working on it was really that bothered with it.

So, just how terrifying is this comic?

Not very.

To be honest, despite DC's protestations, I'm not totally sure these stories really are true, and they're generally not that inspired either.

Also, there's no overall host in the style of Cain and Abel or Morded, Mildred and Cynthia, which was always half the fun of reading DC's horror anthologies.

Still, that's that book covered.

But that raises another issue.

Ghosts.

Have you ever seen one?

And, if you have, are you willing to share the details of that encounter, in the comments section below?

Anyway, I'm off now to watch Doctor Who's first-ever Halloween special The Halloween Apocalypse, even though it's not on for other eight-and-a-half hours. That's how much preparation I need for such a descent into horror.

Happy Halloween to you and don't let the pumpkins get you.

Thursday 28 October 2021

October 28th 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, Britain was bracing itself for the prospect of a totally new force becoming the nation's government.

And that was the Liberal-SDP Alliance which topped a MORI poll, with 40% of the vote, putting it ahead of Labour on 31% and the Conservatives on 27%.

Surely, nothing could now stop its rise to power.

Well, as it turned out, reality could, as there wasn't going to be an election for another couple of years and, when that arrived, the Liberal-SDP Alliance didn't win it. It just goes to show there's little use in being in the lead halfway through a race.

Not in the lead in any kind of way was the Soviet submarine S-363 which ran aground outside Sweden's Karlskrona military base, leading to an international incident. I'm assuming this is the incident Billy Bragg referenced in his song Sexuality when he sang, "A nuclear submarine sinks of the coast of Sweden. Headlines give me headaches when I read them."

He also claimed he had an uncle who once played for Redstar Belgrade but I have it on good authority that was just a lie.

Definitely not running aground were Queen who, that week, released their Greatest Hits LP which went on to become the UK's biggest-selling album of all time.

Speaking of such things, it was the week in which the Human League's Dare rose to claim the Number One spot on the British LP chart.

There was, however, no change on the singles chart, with Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin's cover of It's My Party hanging on to the top spot.

Inoffensive though it was, I wasn't a huge fan of that single, but tracks which did gain my approval on that week's chart  were:

O Superman - Laurie Anderson

Labelled with Love - Squeeze

Open Your Heart - the Human League

Joan of Arc - Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark

Tainted Love - Soft Cell

Passionate Friend - The Teardrop Explodes

and

Love Action - the Human League.

For a look at that chart, you can click right here.

The Teardrop Explodes, famously, took their name from a caption in an old issue of Daredevil.

And that reminiscence can lead me to just one place.

Spider-Man TV Comic #451

It's bad news for everyone's favourite wall-crawler because Sandman and Hydroman have been spotted fighting over a woman.

And now he's going to have to go in there and deal with them.

We also get part two of Marvel UK's look at Spider-Man in the movies - which means it's just a look at the episodes of the TV show.

For those for whom even all that's not enough, we get the chance to become a Marvel artist and, no doubt, end up producing great comics like Super Spider-Man TV Comic.

But, most thrilling of all, we get the debut of Jet Lagg, Britain's newest super-hero!

I'd like to boast that I know all about Jet Lagg but I know absolutely nothing about him and had never heard of him until now.

The British Comics Fandom site tells me he's infamous slowcoach Larry Lagg who gains super-speed after a blood transfusion from Roger Bannister then fights such villains as Fu Klux Kevin.

I certainly wouldn't want to risk saying that name with a few drinks in me.

Captain America #36, the Ameridroid

As Cap does publicity for an upcoming movie about him, he's constantly plagued by the Nihilist Front and constantly rescued by the mysterious Nomad.

And then he's captured by the giant Ameridroid!

It really isn't his lucky day.

Hoping for more luck is Iron Man who's off to Costa Diablo for reasons I'm not totally clear about.

I can shed no light upon the activities of the Dazzler but I do know it's bad news for Thor who doesn't even get to appear in this issue.

Marvel Super Adventure #26, the Black Panther

It's the last-ever issue of the mag that loves to boast of how moody it is.

No doubt, that news'll make it even moodier than ever.

I can't say for certain but I suspect Daredevil's battling The Tribune, as that wannabe judge hijacks the trial of a group of Commie pinkoes.

Meanwhile, the Panther finishes off the Kiber Conspiracy to bring his run to an end.

Tuesday 26 October 2021

Speak Your Brain! Part XIII. Good comics with duff scenes or episodes.

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
The Phantom Stranger recently passed our way and many are the things he knows.

But the one thing he doesn't know is what we're going to be talking about today.

That's because it's time for the return of the internet's most unprepared feature.

The one in which the first person to comment sets the starting point for the day's discussion.

But of what is that discussion to be?

Might it be sport, art, films, music, books, fairy tales, myth, magic, mystery, sofas, sausages, eggs, whisky, broth, flip-flops, flim-flam, see-saws, flowers, flour, bread bins, bin bags, cola, pancakes, sci-fi, horror, sewage, saunas or sandcastles?

It might be.

Sunday 24 October 2021

The Phantom Stranger #28. The Counterfeit Madman?

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

Phantom Stranger #28, The Counterfeit Madman
There is no labyrinth so twisted, no world as uncharted, no puzzle so obscure as the workings of any normal mind! And if the mind be abnormal, then those who try to trace the tangled thread risk even their own sanity!

Wise words indeed.

And wise they should be.

For they come from no lesser gob than that of the Phantom Stranger, a man with a bucketful of words for any occasion.

In this case, that occasion is issue #28 of his book, the purchase of which was the first time I ever encountered the hat-happy man of mystery.

Needless to say, it was Nick Cardy's dramatic cover that drew me in, although, even at the time, I spotted, at once, that it contains a noticeable error.

But is it an error?

Or is it a deliberate hint as to the true nature of the tale's events?

And, Reader, can you spot what that, "error," is?

Inside the book, the deal is this. Willie Lemmick's a nice kid, helpful to all he meets...

...until those occasions when he becomes possessed by his alter ego Joseph Ganz.

For, you see, Ganz is a homicidal maniac with a love of armed robbery and a tendency to think everyone and everything he meets is a monster.

After his attempt to hijack a plane is foiled by the Phantom Stranger, Willie's put on trial but the jury's struggling to decide whether his lifetime of committing pointless but demented crimes means he's genuinely mad or just putting it on to get himself off the hook.

Happily, the Phantom Stranger's in the habit of hanging around in jury deliberation rooms and has a solution.

Phantom Stranger #28, meet Joseph Ganz
He'll use his powers to probe Willie's mind and get to the truth, finally doing so by confronting him with a physical incarnation of Ganz.

At this point, a horrified Willie declares that Ganz can't be real because he made him up.

Armed with this confession, surely the jury is guaranteed to convict.

Except it's not that simple.

After all, as one of the jurors points out, surely only a true madman would go to such lengths as to commit a string of totally pointless but demented crimes, over a period of years, purely in an attempt to prove himself insane.

And, so, we leave our story, as the Phantom Stranger departs the courtroom and we, he, the judge and jury ponder upon the true nature of insanity.

It's a surprisingly short tale and relates much of its info by flashback but it is one that sticks in the mind and may be the first psychologically-based comic I ever read.

Phantom Stranger #28, Willie Lemmick and a plane full of monsters
I've always had a liking for Gerry Talaoc's artwork, and Arnold Drake does a solid job, even though, with its quick jumps in time, and flashbacks, it does feel, at times, as though something's been cut out.

It does strike me, however, that the Phantom Stranger's behaviour would get the case thrown out in a real court.

Would he really be allowed to hang around in the jury deliberation room, eavesdropping on its discussions?

Would he really be allowed to visit Willie in his cell, with no lawyer present?

And would any confession thus obtained be at all admissible as evidence?
Phantom Stranger #28, murdered dog

I suspect not.

We can only conclude that it only goes to show the level of respect the criminal justice system has for him.

Even though it's hard to see how it could even know he exists.

So, there you go. If you're ever stricken by a legal conundrum, call in a corny man in a hat and a cape.

Just don't expect him to ever solve the conundrum.

Phantom Stranger #28, transformation

Thursday 21 October 2021

October 21st 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
***

As we all know, the one good thing about being a hundred is you get a telegram from the Queen.

The UK's centenarians must, therefore, have been flung into total panic, this week in 1981, when British Telecom announced it'd be discontinuing its telegram service in 1982, after 139 years of use.

Now how was the Queen going to congratulate people?

Come to think of it, I don't have a clue. Does she send a text, these days?

Spider-Man TV Comic #450

What's this?

It's a brand new comic dedicated to everyone's favourite wall-crawling hero.

And it's designed to cash in on the popularity of his TV show.

Despite it not being popular and it having been made years earlier and, probably, no one in Britain ever having seen it, anyway.

I don't know how this all makes sense but, for Marvel UK, it does, even though that cover would be enough to put anyone sane off buying the thing.

But what might change people's minds is that, in a move harking back to the very first days of Marvel UK, the book has eight pages of colour amidst its otherwise monochrome contents.

And those pages are used for a retelling of Spider-Man's origin.

We also get a free cardboard boomerang, this week because there's nothing says, "Spider-Man," to people quite like a boomerang does.

Captain America #35, Nomad returns

Hold on to your shields! It's that one in which Cap flies to Los Angeles to get involved in a movie that's being made about him!

But, when he gets there, a brand new hero shows up who's adopted Cap's old Nomad guise and is determined to steal Winghead's glory wherever he goes.

Sadly, I cannot say what occurs in the strips belonging to Thor, the Dazzler and Iron Man but, according to the cover, Shellhead's facing what might very well be his end.

Marvel Super Adventure #25, Daredevil

And it's not looking good for Daredevil either.

Nor should it.

After all, a movie mogul's decided he needs to take violent action against those he deems un-American.

And DD puts himself right in the line of fire!

Elsewhere, it seems the Panther must contend with, "The men who stalk through rock."

I assume that means rock, the substance. Not rock, the music genre.

Anyway, it all culminates with the Panther about to have a confrontation with the villainous Kiber in what is Jack Kirby's final story on the strip.

Tuesday 19 October 2021

Speak Your Brain! Part XII. Changing musical tastes and how you now read 1970s 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
Autumn progresses and the nights draw in.

Time, perhaps, to huddle around a fire and discuss the matters of burning import which keep us awake at night, as the most unprepared feature on the internet returns.

As always, the rules are that the first person to comment below can set the starting point for the day's discussion.

Granted, the way it works in practice is that anyone who comments, somehow, manages to do it.

But what is that discussion of?

Could it be sport, art, films, music, books, fairy tales, myth, magic, mystery, sofas, sausages, eggs, whisky, broth, flip-flops, flim-flam, see-saws, bin bags, cola, pancakes, sci-fi, horror, sewage or sandcastles?

Only you can decide.

If you're brave enough...

Sunday 17 October 2021

2000 AD - September 1983.

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

They say you should live every day as though it's your last.

And, in September 1983, it very nearly was 

It was the month in which nuclear annihilation was avoided by a hair's breadth, thanks to Soviet military officer Stanislav Petrov who prevented a worldwide catastrophe by realising a detected American missile attack was a false alarm.

I think we can safely say he deserved a pay rise.

And there was also good news for those who hate being stopped in the streets and asked for directions, when President Ronald Reagan announced the new-fangled Global Positioning System (GPS) would be made available for civilian use.

Elsewhere in the USA, Vanessa L. Williams became the first African American to be crowned Miss America.

I'm sure she remembered to put her makeup on for that one but a group of people who decided to go without such decoration were American rock band Kiss who startled the world by appearing in public without makeup, for the first time ever, on MTV.

A slightly lesser shock, at least to the people of  Saint Kitts and Nevis, was that it was the month in which their land was granted independence by the UK.

However, it was a relatively low-key month for the world's cinema, with a noticeable dearth of blockbusters. We did, though, get to see the release of two notable films, in Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence and Educating Rita, neither of which I've ever seen.

But there's more to life than just seeing. What about hearing?

The UK singles chart was a tale of two songs, with September's first half finding the listing dominated by UB40's Red Red Wine before that was deposed, for its second half, by Culture Club's Karma Chameleon.

I've heard it claimed Karma Chameleon was the last British Number One that had universal appeal, in the sense that everyone in the family, from the grandparents to the grandchildren, could know it, like it, recognise it and sing along with it. Whether this is true or not, I shall leave to the judgement of others.

Over on the British album chart, the month kicked off with The Very Best of The Beach Boys at the summit, before that succumbed to Paul Young's No Parlez which, in turn, succumbed to UB40's Labour of Love before a late rally saw No Parlez reclaim the peak just in time for the month's death.

That was all, clearly, a frenzy of excitement and I've no doubt the galaxy's greatest comic could easily match it.

After all, the month gave us such strips as Judge Dredd, Sláine, Nemesis the Warlock, Strontium Dog, Rogue Trooper, Robo-Hunter and Tharg's Time Twisters. Imperishable classics, all.

And, as if that wasn't enough, Prog 333 gave us the chance to win a BMX bike, while Prog 335 offered us the prospect of securing our own Atari home computer.

2000 AD prog 332

2000 AD prog 333, Judge Dredd

2000 AD prog 334, Slaine

2000 AD prog 335

Thursday 14 October 2021

October 14th 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
***

Halloween is fast approaching. That magical night on which Americans excitedly await the arrival of trick or treaters, with whole boxes full of candy, and Britons excitedly hide behind their settees, with the lights out, and pretend to not be in.

How appropriate, then, that, this evening in 1981, BBC One was showing Carry On Screaming, the Carry On series' tongue-in-cheek homage to that other great British cinema institution Hammer Horror.

How we thrilled as Oddbod generated a twin from his severed finger, and Harry H Corbett turned into a werewolf detective.

Over on the UK singles chart, the nation had a brand new Number One when Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin's It's My Party hit the top spot.

The Dave Stewart in question did, of course, have no connection to the one who was in the Eurythmics shortly after.

The Police, meanwhile, retained their dominance of the British album chart, thanks to Ghost in The Machine.

But Ghost? In the run-up to Halloween?

How eerily appropriate.

Werewolf #1, Marvel UK

Wait!

What's this?

A summer special?

About werewolves?

For just 45 pence?

Who could say no to such a thing?

It all depends on what your tolerance for Werewolf by Night is, as this book gives us 48 pages of that character and his misadventures.

We get a reprint of Marvel Spotlight #4 in which Jack Russell travels to an island, in search of the Darkhold, and Werewolf by Night #1 in which he escapes that island, with the Darkhold.

If that's not enough for us, there's also a tale from 1953's Journey into Unknown Worlds #22, which goes by the name of Two Frightened People! That, of course, doesn't feature the character. 

I assume it does, though, feature a werewolf but, being unfamiliar with the tale, I cannot guarantee it.

I do have to say, however, that October seems a strange time to release a summer special.

Especially bearing in mind that the winter annuals must already be appearing in a shop near you.

Marvel Classics pocket book #2, Frankenstein

Marvel UK clearly has a lot of confidence in its Classics Comics pocket book because, unlike its other mags in the digest format, this one comes out twice a month. 

And so it is that, mere days after the title's War of the Worlds adaptation hit Britain's spinner racks, Frankenstein is placed before our hungry gazes.

Spider-Man and Hulk Team-Up #449

Information about the contents of this one is thin on the ground but I suspect the Hulk's still under the spell of the Corruptor, and the Western-themed gang of heroes called the Rangers are out to do something about it, while Spider-Man's tussle with the Beetle and the Gibbon is, doubtless, also ongoing.

More importantly, this is the book's last-ever issue, and the numbering that began with (I think) Spider-Man Comics Weekly, way back in 1973, finally comes to a halt.

Goodbye, issue #449. How we'll miss you.

Captain America #34, Iron Man

A comic that's a mere youth in comparison is showing no signs of meeting its maker, as Iron Man tackles the icy menace of the Endotherm who doesn't seem to be the same villain as Jack Frost, even though he appears to have exactly the same powers and is also an Iron Man villain.

Sadly, the activities of Captain America, Thor and the Dazzler are unknown to me.

Marvel Super Adventure #24, Daredevil and the Black Panther

Unless I miss my ever-loving guess, this is the one in which Daredevil and the Black Panther must unite in response to the threat to a boy's life that's been caused by the dreaded Thunderbolts.

Monday 11 October 2021

The Marvel Lucky Bag - October 1981.

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

October 1981 was no time to be faint-hearted.

For, horror undreamt of was about to enter your life, thanks to the release of Sam Raimi's low-budget classic The Evil Dead. How we gasped as a man with a chainsaw took on the nightmare threat of a stroppy tree and more.

But it wasn't the only important release of limited budget, that month. The world's less discriminating cinemas also saw the release of Galaxy of Terror which may not be as celebrated as The Evil Dead but it did employ a man called James Cameron as its production designer and second-unit director. And there are those who claim his later film Aliens owed more than a little to the contents of that movie.

But, also, appropriately, with it being October, the month saw the release of Halloween II,  which was nice news for people who like that kind of thing.

Fantastic Four Annual #16, Steve Ditko

The Fantastic Four get their 16th annual - and it's a surprise for some of us to see it comes courtesy of the pencils of Steve Ditko who not only draws the cover but also the solitary tale contained within.

The Ed Hannigan written epic features someone called Dragon Lord.

And if that's not dragony enough for you, it also contains Dragon Man and the Dragon Riders.

Sadly, it doesn't contain any Fin Fang Foom.

And I don't actually know who Dragon Lord is.

I'm assuming he can control dragons.

But not Fin Fang Foom.

Marvel Team-Up Annual #4

Gasp as this year's Marvel Team-Up annual gives us the return of the Purple Man!

I don't have a clue what occurs in this one but it would appear it takes the combined might of Spider-Man, Moon Knight, Iron Fist, Power Man and Daredevil to stop him.

Marvel Two-in-One Annual #6, The Thing and American Eagle

And it's yet another annual. This time, for Marvel Two-in-One, as the Thing and newcomer American Eagle must prevent Klaw from stealing Vibranium from the Savage Land.

And, apparently, Ka-Zar and Wyatt Wingfoot get dragged into it all, as well!

Dragonslayer #1, Marvel Comics

It's bad news for Dragon Lord because Dragonslayer launches its first issue, which sets out to adapt the movie of the same name.

I don't know if I've ever seen Dragonslayer. Looking at its summary on Wikipedia, nothing about it sounds familiar.

The Defenders #100

We've had plenty of annuals, so far, this post but we've now got an ever-loving 100th issue to celebrate.

And that's from The Defenders.

Over the course of 38 pages, our team who aren't a team must battle multiple incarnations of Satan, in order to prevent him from unleashing Hell on Earth.

Conan Annual #6

And, not to be left behind, Conan also has an annual that's freebooting its way around Hyboria.

It's another 38-page epic but I don't have an inkling of what happens in it.

I do know, though, that the villain of the piece is called Barlonius.

For Your Eyes Only #1, Marvel Comics

Hold the front page because we've got the launch of Marvel's adaptation of For Your Eyes Only, one of the few Bond films I can't remember ever having seen.

Therefore, the plot of the movie escapes me.

I'm assuming it involves a fancy car, a megalomaniac who wants to rule the world, an unlikely gadget, a bad girl who turns good, an extravagant base and a deadly but unlikely henchperson.

Whatever it's about, it's brought to us by the licensed-to-thrill team of Larry Hama and Howard Chaykin.

Captain America Annual #5

Not to be outdone by all those whippersnappers, Captain America, too, has an annual.

It would appear to feature a battle to the death with the Constrictor and is also 38 pages long but that's literally all I can say about it.

Other than it's the handiwork of David Michelinie and Gene Colan.

And it includes an ad for Hostess fruit pies which is called The Hulk vs. The Phoomie Goonies.

The Phoomie Goonies. Marvellous.

Sunday 10 October 2021

Forty years ago today - October 1981.

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

Look out, Past! Ready or not, here I come!

Captain America #262, the Ameridroid

The good news for Cap is he doesn't have to worry about the fake Nomad anymore.

Because the giant Ameridroid has killed him.

The bad news is Cap's captured by that self-same Ameridroid and is now going to be forced to star in a movie about his own death, as produced by that most temperamental of Hollywood moguls the Red Skull.

Incredible Hulk #264, finger-pointing

This cover seems strangely familiar...

As mentioned the other day, a villain called the Corruptor gets a character called the Night Flyer to attack the Hulk, so the Hulk'll get angry.

This is because the Corruptor can seize mental control over those who are furious.

But what's this? The Hulk's not the only one there? Rick Jones, Betty Ross and the all-new, all-younger Teen Brigade are also present?

It all sounds like a recipe for disaster.

Iron Man #151, Ant-Man

And this is a very odd one.

Iron Man's barely to be seen in this tale, as brand new Ant-Man Scott Lang gets trapped in a building, with Tony Stark's automated, homicidal security system and has to use all his resources to survive.

I'm assuming Marvel's testing the waters for a potential Scott Lang solo series, with this one.

Amazing Spider-Man #221, Ramrod

It feels like a long time since we last had a Marvel story titled Crisis on Campus!

In it, Ramrod, the poor man's Hammerhead, decides to launch a poison attack on a bar at which Lonesome Pincus is performing and - by means I don't recall - Lonesome's terrible singing, somehow, saves everyone there.

Spectacular Spider-Man #59

And it's another familiar cover, for us all.

Now working in television, Martin Blank promises his bosses he can help them get footage of Spider-Man.

And, of course, it all leads to a clash between his alter-ego the Gibbon and Spidey.

But that's not all.

You see, the Beetle's got a new costume - and he can't wait to test it out on Spidey!

Thor #312, Tyr

This is a great issue to read if you want to know how not to conduct a love life.

The Norse god of war Tyr decides it's about time Sif had a new boyfriend - himself - and he doesn't care if she wants one or not.

However, there is one snag. She's already got a boyfriend; Thor.

Thus it is that Tyr travels to Earth, in order to slay his rival.

Daredevil #175, Elektra

The Kingpin's hired martial arts goons are still out to kill Daredevil who's lost his radar sense.

Fortunately, he has Elektra on his side.

Sort of.

You know what it's like. It's like, "You're the only man I shall ever love but I must randomly stab you in the face, from time to time because... ...whatever."

X-Men #150, Magneto

The X-Men have all managed to find themselves on Magneto's secret island - and his computer's robbed them of their powers.

The main thing that stands out about this one is the villain's had a baffling personality transplant and is suddenly an honourable man who wants nothing but to protect mutantkind, thanks to his memories of childhood oppression and genocide.

I'm pretty sure none of this has ever been mentioned before.

Fantastic Four #235, Ego

For reasons I can't remember, the Fantastic Four have landed on Ego the living planet and must overcome his defences, in order to sabotage the engine he's using to propel himself through space, so they can get him well away from the Earth.

Conan the Barbarian #127, a polar bear

Conan rescues a girl from a polar bear, then rescues her from her fellow townsfolk, only for her to melt at the end of the tale because it turns out she's made of ice.

Avengers #212

This is a very strange adventure in which a sorceress and her barbarian boyfriend decide to leave their home in the hills and visit the big city where his anger-management issues quickly get him killed.

At which point, she goes on a grief-fuelled rampage and the Avengers have to show up to stop her.