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Tuesday, 7 December 2021

The Marvel Lucky Bag - December 1971.

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

Once upon a time, there were things called milkmen.

And, once upon a time, you could have hit singles about them.

In fact, you could have Number One hit singles about them.

That time was 1971.

And so it was that comedian Benny Hill found himself atop the UK singles chart for the whole of that year's December, thus earning the coveted Christmas Number One, thanks to Ernie (the Fastest Milkman in the West).

Over on the British album chart, that month, things were far more sensible - and milk-free - with the crown being held by Led Zeppelin's Four Symbols and then T. Rex's Electric Warrior.

But what was happening in the cinemas of the planet while that was occurring? 

They were filled with a wide range of memorable movies, including - but not limited to - Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Nicholas and Alexandra, A Clockwork Orange, The Last Picture Show and Diamonds Are Forever.

Nicholas and Alexandra, of course, featured future Doctor Who star Tom Baker as Rasputin and is, therefore, a classic.

Fantastic Four Annual #9

The FF's ninth annual offers us three tales to ponder.

In the first, reprinted from Fantastic Four #43, Reed manages to free Ben and Johnny from the Frightful Four's brainwashing.

Next, a Human Torch reprint from Strange Tales #131 shows us the Mad Thinker trying to destroy a dam, with a flying metal ball.

But the main item of interest is a reprint of the wedding of Reed and Sue from Fantastic Four Annual #3, although, apparently, it has several pages removed to fit it into this issue.

Marvel Feature #1, the Defenders

It's the official first appearance of Marvel's hottest non-team, as the Defenders seek to prevent Yandroth from destroying the Earth.

I do believe this is the one that contains the legendary combination of Ross Andru and Bill Everett on art, which leads to a... ...unique visual experience.

I quite like it but everybody else seems to hate it.

Thor Annual #4

It's reprint heaven again, as Thor finds himself up against, first, Tana Nile and, then, Ego the living planet.

On top of that, we get a recycled Tale of Asgard that deals with The Boyhood of Loki!

Tower of Shadows Special #1

Tower of Shadows may not have been a spectacular success but it does, at least, get its own annual,

Granted, it's the only annual it ever does get. So, clearly, even the annual isn't a sales triumph.

Regardless, we're offered such delights as Witch Hunt, One Hungers, Look Out, Wyatt--Automation's Gonna Get Your Job, A Time to Die, From Beyond the Brink and I Opened the Door to Nowhere. All but one of which are reprinted from issues #1 and #2 of the regular mag.

The Western Kid #1

And, now, a brand new cowboy book hits the shelves, with the launch of The Western Kid.

Granted, it's not that brand new. The tales within are reprinted from the 1950s. They're mostly drawn by John Romita, and star Tex Dawson who is the Western Kid of the title.

Chili Special #1

With one mighty bound, Chili also joins the club of those who've had their own annual - though it seems to be the only one she's ever had.

It offers up a string of tales from Stan Lee and Stan Goldberg. All sourced from the first two issues of her regular book, in 1969.

My Love Special #1

My Love also gets the unlikely-annual treatment. And it too would appear to have only managed the one.

Yet again, we get a slew of reprints from the mag's first two issues.

This time, they're mostly by Stan Lee and  John Buscema.

Sub-Mariner #44, the Human Torch

Poor old Namor. Not for him the thrill of having an annual. He has to settle for just another issue of his regular book.

In it, he continues scouring Boston for his father.

However, that has to go on the backburner when Llyra and Tiger Shark unleash the sea monster Krago in the local harbour, unwittingly drawing the Human Torch into the fray.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Help! Sincerely!

The 10-year-old Charlie remembers clearly and precisely hitching a wagon to his bicycle and taking his little sister on a ride.

Charlie did this b/c, his scheme to go to the grocery store to buy comics and not get hassled by his folks, was to use his little sister as camouflage.

When Charlie, sister, bike, and wagon arrived he bought FF #9 annual above.

So here is the problem. I did this in the summer time. I mean, I even remember my mom and girl friend sitting on the front stoop as I hooked up the bike and grabbed my sister and spun my story.

SO how could i have bought this in summer if released in December. HELP?

Charlie Horse 47 said...

ON the other hand, apparently 50 years ago, Charlie remembers a cold, winterish day in his youth riding up to the Wisconsin border to visit his dad's hill billy relatives.

Anyhow, we did walk to the local corner store and spy Defenders #1 above! The trip was justified after all! Read it all the way home in the back of a station wagon by the light of the silvery moon!

(Hillbilly =
- spot lighting deer and shooting them
- spend time in the big house now and then
- are often half in the bag
- chain smoking
- making great observations like "boy you got big feet kid."
- wearing the same hair style popularized by Veronica Lake 30 years earlier)

Anonymous said...

That Defenders # 1 cover's Neal Adams Submariner pic's used in the Marvel Superheroes Card game:

Just to go off completely at a tangent, the most haunted road in Britain's (2 minutes something) the Stocksbridge Bypass(such a haunted road may be ideal to read comics on):


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Charlie, reading Subby 44 just a few years ago, was actually saddened and revolted at the death of Krago. It was disgustingly violent in a way to kill a dumb creature (impaled, IIRC).

It struck me about the death and destruction in Subby: his queen, Krago, his dad.

I don't know what sadist was doing the writing / scripting / editing at the time but it was clear these guys wanted to bloody up the stories.

Steve W. said...

Phillip, I remember the Sheffield Star being keen on the Stocksbridge Bypass hauntings, in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Charlie, the dates on American comics tended to be the dates when they came to the end of their planned shelf life. So, that annual would have been available two or three months before December.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, MIKE’S AMAZING WORLD OF COMICS says MARVEL FEATURE 1 and FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL 9 were both on sale in July 1971. So your memory is still pretty good, ya old coot ;)

BTW, I’m the same age as you, so I use that term with all respect and affection :)

I love Ross Andru and Bill Everett — seperately. When I first bought a copy of MARVEL FEATURE 1, I thought to myself, ‘What the HELL happened here??’ I’ve never seen a comic that was so fricking weird and ugly in such a specific way, before or since. Thought maybe it was because of a printing glitch or something. Later I found out that Everett had apparently been in one of his ‘Mean Drunk’ moods, took a disliking to Andru’s somewhat loose pencils and decided to ink them exactly ‘as is’ out of spite. The end result is very, um, shall we say, unique.

Stan supposedly was so pissed off by the incident that he wanted to ban Everett from getting work at Marvel, permanently. Roy went to bat for him, got Everett to apologize and promise to never pull a stunt like that again, etc, and Stan relented. He was back inking Andru’s pencils on MARVEL FEATURE 3 a few months later, and the combo looks quite good on that one.

I’ve been slagging Neal Adams’ Marvel stuff lately, and I’m about to do it again, so fair warning. I liked his DEFENDERS cover first time I saw it, shrunk WAY down in a 1/3rd page ad for GIANT-SIZE DEFENDERS 1 ( I guess they didn’t have the real GSD1 cover art yet, or just liked this image and wanted to re-use it). But when i saw it full-size and in its proper place, I wasn’t keen on it. All 3 Defenders just look a bit weird and ‘off model’ to me. But I do like his art on the reprinted story ‘One Hungers’ in the TOWER OF SHADOWS SPECIAL.


Redartz said...

Benny Hill at the top of the music charts? Ah, there's just no end to the wonders you UK folks reveal! I just knew him as a thanks to PBS. Incredible. Of course, I rather preferred Dave Allen...

B.t.- good call on the Adams story in Tower of Shadows. Pretty nice indeed. Another of the hidden gems that those early Bronze Age horror anthologies often contained...

Charlie Horse 47 said...

b.t. - Charlie profusely thanks you for that update! I started to think old-timers had already kicked in!

That does make me feel better about some other posts I've seen where in I swear I bought something in the dead of summer as a child and it has a non-summer date on it.

Anyhow, if you are passing through Chicago, I'll happily treat you to a chicago polish sausage for salvaging my pride!

Various SNL chicago polish sausages skits below, involving da bears and coach ditka!

Anonymous said...

Happy to help with the Memory Confirmation, pal :)

There are enough good (well, good LOOKING) stories in Marvel’s Bronze Age Horror anthologies to fill a good-sized TPB collection. TOWER OF SHADOWS and CHAMBER OF DARKNESS had spectacular art by Steranko, Kirby, Adams, Colan, Wrightson, Barry Smith, John Buscema and Wally Wood, and the two later anthos CHAMBER OF CHILLS and JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY had some some fab, funky early art jobs by Frank Brunner, Craig Russell, Ralph Reese, Howard Chaykin, etc.


McSCOTTY said...

Strange Thor logo . I just love the out drama in that "My Love" cover classic stuff. I'm a massive Adams fan b.t. But I see what you mean Doc Strange and Namor look awkward but I do like the Hulk illo.

It was so sad to hear the news that the great George Perez has terminal cancer and only has less than a year to live.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I saw that announcement earlier today as well. His decision to forego Chemo and surgery and just try to enjoy what time he has left is remarkably brave (and wise, I think). His willingness to sign as many books as he can before he goes and his desire to make one last big public appearance so he can thank as many fans as he can, in person — I don’t mind saying, it kinda chokes me up. Class, pure class.


McSCOTTY said...

Yeah George was probably the last artist whose work I followed as a "fanboy" . I have followed his work from his first 2 page parody piece in Astonishing Tales issue 25 (Deathlok) and "Sons of the Tiger" in Master of Kung Fu black and white magazine in the early/mid 1970s right up until his JLA/ Avengers team up work. He never produced anything less that stunning detailed and fun artwork. Seemingly a genuinely lovely kind guy and a true "superhero " in the way he is dealing with this terrible time in his life . As you say " pure class".

Anonymous said...

What sad news about George Perez - I was completely unaware of this. George's Avengers work (starting with the second UK Marvel Superheroes Monthly) seemed incredibly cool, in terms of the style. I later read George's earlier stuff on the Avengers but, for me, the Ant Man story - with Pablo Marcos ( & then Ultron) was when he really hit his stride. Simply amazing! For me, other standouts are the cover of CB vs Spider-man, & The Serpent Crown Affair. Oh, and - as Paul mentioned - Deadly Hands of KF.

George Perez is one of the true greats. Maybe Marvel could put together some kind of special tribute to him - a labour of love, including lots of his best art - at a sensible price point.


Anonymous said...

Sad news, but good for George choosing to make the most of his last year or so.

'Off-model', or the work of a distinctive stylist?
Neal Adams' Defenders look pretty good to me. Obviously he's no Sal Buscema, but personally I don't have a problem with that. At all.


Steve W. said...

It is indeed sad news about George Perez.

Sean, Bt and McScotty, my big problem with that Adams Defenders cover is the focus of attention appears to be on the Hulk's foot, which I'm not sure is the most dramatic place to have it.

McScotty, I agree. That Thor logo doesn't really scream, "Asgardian," at us.

Red, there's a long and inglorious tradition of comedians having big hit records in Britain. Thankfully, it's a tradition that's mostly died out in the last 20 years.