Sunday 30 January 2022

Tales to Astonish #27 - The Man in the Ant Hill!

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

Tales to Astonish #27, The Man in the Ant Hill
Even as I type these words, The Incredible Shrinking Man is on The Horror Channel. And that sounds, to me, like fate's demanding I take a new look at Marvel's very own incredible shrinking man; Henry Pym.

Dr Pym, famously, went on to become Ant-Man and Yellowjacket and Goliath and God knows who else but, before all those costumed caperings, he was just a scientist in search of a great invention.

And in Tales to Astonish #27, he found one.

Or did he?

We begin with him testing out his latest and greatest invention, a potion that makes things shrink, just by touching them. Why it doesn't make the test tube it's contained within shrink isn't explained.

Unless it started out as a really gigantic test tube.

Regardless, the man who's determined to prove the scientific establishment wrong in mocking his wild ideas decides it's time to test the potion on himself. 

Tales to Astonish #27 - The Man in the Ant Hill!
And, by crikey, it works. Within moments, he's the size of an insect. 

He, of course, responds to this triumph as any man would - by running out into his garden where he's promptly attacked by ants.

Showing the sort of smarts only a man of science can possess, he decides to escape them by hiding in their own ant hill. After all, what are the chances of them ever looking in there for him?

Almost disastrously, he falls into the ants' honey store where it seems he'll be stuck until he dies but, as luck would have it, he's rescued by the one friendly ant in the colony.

Tales to Astonish #27 - The Man in the Ant Hill!
Still, the other ants are back and looking to play football with Pym's head.

But, once more, luck is with him, as he spots a discarded match and lights it. In the ensuing fiery chaos, he flees the nest.

But how can he get back to where his growth serum resides, before the ants regain their composure and catch up with him?

Very easily, it turns out. For that friendly ant comes to the rescue, once more, and gives him a lift to his house's window sill where the serum's lying.

Tales to Astonish #27 - The Man in the Ant Hill!
Now returned to normal size, Henry pours his shrinking and growing potions down the sink and vows never again to mess about with the awesome power of size-changing.

And he resolves that he'll also never forget that friendly ant who saved him.

It's certainly a valuable life lesson for us all, but certain things leap to my mind.

The obvious one is that we all know Hank Pym later goes on to have several mental meltdowns but, to be honest, he seems to have started his career with one.

Even in his first panel, he's drawn as a man unhinged. The fact that he leaves his growth serum in a place where his shrunken self can't possibly reach it, and that his response to rapid diminution is to rush straight out of the house, for no good reason, also suggests he's not exactly operating with a full deck.

Also, never trust a scientist who's out to prove the world wrong for laughing at him.

Other things strike me. One is that, in this tale, his serum shrinks anything it touches, rather than having to be drunk. And it works on the inanimate as well as the animate, meaning even chairs aren't safe from its powers. Is this tale the only time that's ever been the case?

Tales to Astonish #27 - The Man in the Ant Hill!
Also, page 3 contains a panel in which Pym contemplates that he'll be able to shrink a vast army to the size of insects, so they can all fit in one plane, in a scene almost identical to the one in Fantastic Four #7 where Reed Richards shrinks the entire population of Planet X (apart from Kurrgo) to the size of insects, so they can all fit into one spaceship. Interesting that this tale preceded that one by nine months and that Lee and Kirby were not exactly reluctant to recycle ideas.

Anyway, it's a short and breezy tale that makes little sense at all and depends on Pym enjoying incredible strokes of fortune in order to survive - as well as displaying incredible levels of stupidity, in order to be imperilled in the first place.

Tales to Astonish #27 - The Man in the Ant Hill!
Still, despite all that, I can't help feeling Henry's been very hard done by; in that, somehow, by some cruel twist of fate, he was nowhere to be seen in the pages of Origins of Marvel Comics.

There he was, having arthropodal adventures, months before Spider-Man was thrust upon the world and, yet, if you believed that book, he ever even existed.

Good God above, with treatment like that, no wonder the poor man went mad.

And there's one thing I haven't even mentioned.

At one point in this tale, he defeats an ant by using his superior judo skills on it.

I mean, come on, if defeating ants at judo doesn't get a man into Origins of Marvel Comics, what will?

Thursday 27 January 2022

January 27th 1982 - 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 month in 1982, there was a whole lot of shakin' going on.

That's right, pop-pickers, the non-stop hit machine that was Shakin' Stevens was at it again, as he hit the Number One spot on the UK singles chart, for the third time, with his latest smash Oh Julie. Could nothing stop the man?

Nothing.

Resistance was futile.

At least on the singles chart. 

On the album chart, it was a whole other matter, with its Number One slot being seized by Barbra Streisand, thanks to her compilation Love Songs, known in her native USA as Memories

But, speaking of memories, how well can I remember the contents of the comics that Marvel UK brought out in that week?

Captain America #49, Thor and Jane Foster

No sooner has Jane Foster returned to Thor's strip than she gets to hang out in Hades while her ex must tangle with Ulik and Pluto.

That's the Greek god of the afterlife. Not Mickey Mouse's dog.

Elsewhere, the Punisher's after Cap. For what reason, I cannot say but I suspect the star-spangled Avenger isn't going to approve of Frank's crime-fighting methodology.

But more importantly than even that, we have the chance to win ten Doctor Who records.

However, what could those records be? It's too early for them to be either Doctor in Distress or the KLF's Number One smash Doctorin' the TARDIS and it's too late for the disco version of the theme tune that made the chart in (I think) 1978. Could these records be audio versions of old episodes?

Who can know?

Super Spider-Man TV Comic #464

It would appear that everyone's favourite web-spinner's about to go up against the massive menace of Magma.

Tragically for all music lovers, it seems the Magma in question is a super-villain, rather than the French progressive rock band of the same name.

I know the strip's brought to us by the pencil and ink of Herb Trimpe and Mike Esposito and that Iron Man also shows up.

From this, I conclude this is a tale from Marvel Team-Up.

There's also a centrefold poster of Spidey squaring up to the Green Goblin, and yet another chance to win those ten Doctor Who records.

Tuesday 25 January 2022

Speak Your Brain! Part XX. Things you had that your parents disapproved of.

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

The Steve Does Comics Megaphone
Image by Tumisu
from Pixabay
Tuesday once more rings my doorbell, with its demands that I let it in.

For it has a message for me. 

That message is that we're in the second half of the month, and that can only herald the return of a feature in which the first person to comment gets to decide what the rest of us should discuss.

But what shall it be?

It might be sport, or art, or films, books, cooks, nooks, rocks, music, mucous, fairy tales, fairy lights, fairy cakes, Eccles cakes, myth, moths, maths, magic, murder, mystery, mayhem, May Day, sofas, sodas, sausages, eggs, whisky, broth, Bath, Garth Marenghi, Garth Brooks, Bruno Brookes, Bruno Mars, Mars Bars, wine bars, flip-flops, flim-flam, flapjacks, see-saws, flowers, flours, bread bins, bin bags, body bags, doggy bags, bean bags, cola, pancakes, pizzas, sci-fi, Wi-Fi, Hi-Fi, horror, sewage, saunas, suet, Silurians, Sontarans, sins, suns, sans or sandcastles.

Then again, it might not.

Only time - and the Reader - will decide.

Sunday 23 January 2022

The Many Ghosts of Dr Graves #26.

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

The Many Ghosts of Dr Graves #26, Charlton Comics
A long long time ago, in a galaxy slap-bang right in front of my face because I'm living in it, I had an issue of The Many Ghosts of Dr Graves.

In fact, I had several, what with me being a fan of horror comics and a determined admirer of Charlton.

But one of those issues was different.

For I read it in the days before I took to collecting comics. Which meant I read it once and then it was disposed of, leaving nothing behind but vague memories of what it had contained.

Now, after all this time, I think I've tracked down that issue and I think it was 1971's Dr Graves #26 whose cover, by an immense coincidence, just happens to be to the left of these very words.

So, now that I've been reunited with my long-lost love, will that love be rekindled?

We kick off with The Arrival of the Innocent, as brought to us by Joe Gill and Pete Morisi.

In it, an American woman inherits a big old house in England and is warned, by the locals, not to risk living there, due to a ghost infestation.

Needless to say, she ignores such superstitious twaddle.

But, when she moves in, the ghosts' best efforts to scare her out of the building fail miserably.

The Many Ghosts of Dr Graves #26
And then, we get the shock revelation that she's not a normal person. She's some sort of witch - or something - who can exist in both the realm of the living and the realm of ghosts and, therefore, has no fear of the supernatural.

To be honest, when I say she's a witch, I'm not really sure about that. It's never actually explained just how come she can exist in both the realm of the living and the realm of ghosts. We're also told she's thousands of years old but aren't told how she's achieved that feat either. It's all extremely vague and, possibly, not too well-thought-out.

Morisi's art, as is the case with all the samples of his work I've ever seen, has a look that makes you suspect it's traced from photographs and, thus, has a very static quality to it. But, having said that, it also has an appealing simplicity.

The Many Ghosts of Dr Graves #26
Next, we get The Long Engagement in which Joe Gill and Charles Nicholas tell the tale of a woman who attends a guided tour of a big old English house, gets separated from the others and finds herself 600 years in the past where she meets and falls in love with Lord Cecil, the second owner of the building.

Sadly, for both of them, he quickly falls victim to a murder plot by his sister.

However, when our heroine finds herself back in the present, she meets the house's current owner who's, presumably, the reincarnation of Lord Cecil. Romance is, thus, guaranteed.

Again, things are highly vague. It's not clear whether he is a reincarnation or just the same man who's, somehow, still with us. Joe Gill's clearly not in the mood for explanations, this issue.

It also has to be said the tale looks very mechanical in both its art and its lettering, as though produced by some sort of machine.

The Many Ghosts of Dr Graves #26
Finally, Joe Gill teams up with Steve Ditko to give us The Dog Howls for You! in which a weird old bloke has the power to kill people by getting his dog to howl outside their homes.

And he's currently using that power to try to prevent a road being built in the area.

When a daring young local investigates, it turns out the weird old bloke and his dog have been dead for many years. And so it is that a quick funeral for the pair puts an end to their road-sabotage campaign.

Well, that's all that wrapped up. So, is the comic any good?

Not really. It's mostly a lot lighter in tone than I'd expect but lacks the charm a comic like Midnight Tales employed to make up for such frivolousness.

Also, all three tales have confusing or not properly explained elements to them, with the final one being particularly confusing to me on first reading. The artwork's inoffensive throughout but only Ditko's has any kind of verve to it.

Still, it's a Charlton comic.

That makes it a plucky underdog.

That means I'm on its side, even when it fails.

And it kind of does fail.

Thursday 20 January 2022

January 20th 1982 - 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
***

I have great news for all fans of Prime Minister's sons because, this week in 1982, Margaret Thatcher's spawn Mark was found safe and well in the Sahara, six days after going missing during the Paris-Dakar Rally.

He may have had trouble knowing just where he was but there was once a man who knew exactly where he was.

He was in Troy.

That man was German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann and, many decades earlier, he'd rediscovered the notorious city, millennia after its location had been lost to history.

And we know that because, on this very night in 1982, BBC Two's Chronicle was broadcasting a documentary about him.

Schliemann's life story is, legendarily, explosive. Mostly because he did most of his excavating by dynamiting everything in sight, destroying great swathes of priceless artefacts and evidence, along the way. 

Super Spider-Man TV Comic #463

Spider-Man finds himself having to stop Moonstone when she decides to commit a memorable crime, in order to restore her reputation with potential employers.

How memorable that crime is, I can't say, as I can't remember it but it doesn't matter, because Spidey soon puts a Schliemann-sized dent in her hopes.

But wait! What's this? Not only do we get Spider-Man, we have the chance to win a Corgi Superbike!?!

To be honest, I don't know what that is but it has the word, "Super," in it. So, it must be good.

Captain America #48, Marvel UK, 1982

Apparently, Cap has to deal with the menace of Big Thunder. I don't recall much about the villain but suspect he's a fairly bog-standard gang leader of the kind who shouldn't give America's greatest scrapper much trouble.

If the cover's to be believed, we also get mad action, mad trolls and mad mind control.

I'm going to guess the mad trolls are in this week's Thor strip.

And the trolls aren't likely to be the only ones who're mad, as our hero's in the Netherworld where he finds Pluto has Jane Foster hanging, suspended, over a pit of lava.

Of Daredevil and the FF's strips, I can say nothing, this week.

Tuesday 18 January 2022

Speak Your Brain! Part XIX. Flops that should have been hits.

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
Once more we're into the second half of a month and once more the day's a Tuesday.

That can mean but one thing.

That I've run out of ideas and it's time for the thrilling return of the greatest feature to hit the Internet since I stole it from Back in the Bronze Age. It's the one in which the first person to comment gets to decide what the rest of us should discuss.

It could cover almost any subject; be it sport, art, films, books, cooks, music, mucous, fairy tales, fairy lights, fairy cakes, myth, moths, magic, murder, mystery, mayhem, May Day, sofas, sodas, sausages, eggs, whisky, broth, Bath, Garth Marenghi, Garth Brooks, Bruno Brookes, Bruno Mars, Mars Bars, wine bars, flip-flops, flim-flam, flapjacks, see-saws, flowers, flours, bread bins, bin bags, body bags, bean bags, cola, pancakes, pizzas, sci-fi, Wi-Fi, Hi-Fi, horror, sewage, saunas, suet, Silurians, Sontarans, sins, suns sans or sandcastles.

It might not be any of those things.

Only you The Reader can decide.

Sunday 16 January 2022

2000 AD - December 1983.

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

Michael Jackson was not like other boys.

I know that because he said so in his video for Thriller.

And he did it, this month, in 1983.

It's true. That very mini-movie was first aired on MTV, right then and there and, no doubt, enlivened the life of anyone who had the soul for getting down.

In the world of politics, Brunei wasn't only getting down, it was getting out and about. That's because, that very December, it gained independence from the United Kingdom.

It does strike me how many times, during the history of this feature, I've typed the words, "...gained independence from the United Kingdom." Bearing in mind that, even in the 1960s, I thought of the British Empire as being a thing from ancient history, it's startling just how many places were still gaining independence in the 1980s.

As you'd probably expect, cinemas, that month, saw the release of a whole slew of movies. Among the most celebrated were Christine, Scarface, Terms of Endearment, Yentl and Silkwood. Of those, I've definitely seen Christine. I'm not sure if I've seen Scarface. Is that the one with the chainsaw? The other three movies, I've definitely never seen.

On the UK singles chart, while all that was going on, things were very calm, as there was only one Number One in the whole of December.

And that was Only You by the Flying Pickets, the acapella cover of the Yazoo song, which proved mighty enough to see off challenges from both Paul Young's Love of the Common People and Slade's My Oh My.

On the British album chart, meanwhile, there was better news for Paul Young who started off the month tightly gripping the top spot, with his No Parlez LP.

But even that had to make way for the towering juggernaut that was Now That's What I Call Music by my favourite act Various Artists.

As the lack of digits at the end of that title suggests, it was indeed the very first of the series that's still going strong, to this very day.

Also still going strong is the galaxy's greatest comic, though, somewhat predictably, it was, at the time, giving us Judge Dredd, Sláine, Nemesis the Warlock, Tharg's Future-Shocks, Rogue Trooper and Strontium Dog. It would appear, from that December's covers, that Mega-City's finest were finding themselves up against a plague of dinosaurs.

And, if dinosaurs weren't enough to keep us all happy, we had the chance to win the Activision video games that'd make our Christmas complete. 

2000 AD, Prog 345, Strontium Dog

2000 AD, Prog 346, Judge Dredd

2000 AD, Prog 347

2000 AD, Prog 348, Tharg

2000 AD, Prog 349, Nemesis the Warlock

Thursday 13 January 2022

January 13th 1982 - 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
***

A wise man once remarked, "Do not despise the snake for having no horns. For who is to say that snake will not, one day, grow up to be... ...a dragon?"

That man was Burt Kwouk and he was, once more, visiting our TV screens on this night in 1982, thanks to BBC Two repeating the very first episode of The Water Margin, that tale of 108 Chinese warriors who did something or other so impressive the Japanese made a TV show about it and the BBC bought it.

That was certainly very thrilling but, for those who preferred pursuits more sedentary than the martial arts, there was also good news, as this was the week the Commodore 64 was launched. So mighty was it that it would go on to become the best-selling personal computer of all time.

It was clearly a success story that could warm the coldest of cockles and, right then and there, the people of Britain needed their cockles warming because, right across the realm, temperatures were plunging to nightmare lows.

So bad was it that −27.2 °C was recorded in Aberdeenshire, equalling the UK record previously set there in 1895.

Not having to worry about the cold was Mark Thatcher, son of Margaret, who managed to disappear in the Sahara desert, during the Paris-Dakar rally.
 
When it came to the UK singles chart, there was a change at the top, that week, with Bucks Fizz's classic The Land of Make Believe finally displacing the Human League.

But it wasn't all bad news for the synth-happy band, as their Dare LP was still ruling the UK album chart.

For any who may care, these are the other tracks that I approved of on that week's British singles chart:

Don't You Want Me - the Human League

I Could Be Happy - Altered Images

It Must Be Love - Madness

The Model/Computer Love - Kraftwerk

Young Turks - Rod Stewart

Being Boiled - the Human League

Golden Brown - the Stranglers

Bedsitter - Soft Cell

Cambodia - Kim Wilde

Under Pressure - Queen and David Bowie

Tainted Love - Soft Cell

I Go to Sleep - the Pretenders

The Lunatics (Have Taken Over the Asylum) - the Fun Boy Three

The Voice - Ultravox

Waiting on A Friend - the Rolling Stones

And 

Joan of Arc - Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark

And, should you wish to investigate the topic further, that chart can be found here.

While the associated album chart is located here.

Super Spider-Man TV Comic #462

It would appear that, this time, Spidey finds himself confronting the Speed Demon - previously the Squadron Sinister's Whizzer who, not unreasonably, has decided he needs a name change.

To celebrate that name change, he goes on a stealing spree which leads to a confrontation with the wall-crawler in a department store.

There's also a one-page pin-up dedicated to the Molten Man.

And, of course, we get the chance to win a Raiders of the Lost Ark T-Shirt.

Marvel Classics Comics #8, Robinson Crusoe, Marvel UK

Marvel gives us its adaptation of Robinson Crusoe, from the pens and pencils of Doug Moench, Sonny Trinidad and the Tribe.

Captain America #47, Marvel UK

It would seem Cap's still trying to rescue that girl from that castle and, on top of all the other weirdness that's breaking out, he now has to contend with doorknobs that can turn into serpents.

Thor's in this issue too but I don't have a clue what he's up to.

But I do know we get a Fantastic Four pin-up.

Tuesday 11 January 2022

The Marvel Lucky Bag - January 1982.

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

Mere days ago, I scrutinised what Marvel's big hitters were doing in the comics that bore the cover date of this month in 1982.

But what of their other heroes?

The ones no one cares about? What was a random sampling of them up to?

The Dazzler #11, Terrax

I don't know what transpires in this adventure but it's obvious the Dazzler has to confront the power of Terrax, which, you'd have thought, is going to be a very short fight.

But, if Terrax is involved, that means Galactus must be too.

And, indeed, he is.

At least if the cover's to be believed.

Power Man and Iron Fist #77, Daredevil

My most recent post made mention of the fact that Iron Fist and Power Man are guest-starring in this month's Daredevil.

And what do you know? The man without fear's returning the compliment in their mag.

It would seem a young Russian ballet star's besotted with her American co-star but international politics - and two bodyguards - are stood in the way of romance.

So, our trio of heroes try to help out and find themselves accidentally performing in a ballet, as they battle the bodyguards.

Meanwhile, in a development we've all demanded, Foggy Nelson gets to tap dance.

ROM #26, Galactus

Galactus is a busy man. Not only is he mithering the Dazzler, he's also bothering ROM - because he's out to eat the space knight's homeworld.

Obviously, our hero can't allow that to happen. So, he confronts the interplanetary glutton and offers him a far better meal, instead.

The Dark Nebula of the Dire Wraiths!

Crazy Super Special 1982

Crazy gives us 84 pages of unbridled hilarity, including, it would seem, a send-up of the X-Men.

Micronauts #37

The Micronauts are showing a remarkable amount of staying power, having now reached their 37th issue - and they still have over 20 left.

How much of this is down to their own appeal and how much is down to the never-ending parade of guest stars the book seems to have, I cannot say.

This time out, the tiny titans, somehow, find themselves in the X-Men's Danger Room and are soon assisted by Nightcrawler in confronting their latest foe.

The Savage She-Hulk #24

I don't have a clue what that thing on the cover is but it's certainly intriguing enough to make me want to buy the book.

According to the Grand Comics Database, She-Hulk's attacked by Ralphie's most powerful mutation yet - the Earth-Lord.

I don't know who Ralphie is.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Walters finally accepts that his daughter's the She-Hulk.

I assume this means he's finally going to stop trying to kill her.

Sunday 9 January 2022

Forty years ago today - January 1982.

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

Brace yourself, dear Reader. For it is time, once more, for me to defy time itself and leap forward into the past.

Avengers #215, The Molecule Man.

As far as I can remember, the Silver Surfer manages to unleash the deadly menace of the Molecule Man upon the planet.

Fortunately, the Avengers are soon on the scene, to tackle the valency-violating villain.

Not so fortunately, they don't do so well against him.

And Tigra's picked the very worst time to have a psychological meltdown.

Conan the Barbarian #130

I do believe Conan's in far-off Khitai and still helping the wife of his old friend take on an evil sorcerer.

Long-time readers will not be startled to discover the barbarian is triumphant in all his battles there.

Even the one against a magical female ninja.

Daredevil #178

Daredevil discovers three really is a crowd, when Iron Fist and Power Man show up and cramp his style.

They've been hired by Foggy to protect a stooge who's agreed to prove the link between a new mayoral candidate and the Kingpin.

Speaking of whom, while all this is going on, Kingie's having a meeting with Elektra about the prospect of him hiring her.

Fantastic Four #238, John Byrne and Dr Doom

Here's a twist no one saw coming.

Mostly because it's extremely unlikely.

This month, it turns out Johnny's girlfriend Frankie also has flame-based powers.

But how?

That's just it. She doesn't recall.

However, as her memories return, she realises she gained them by accident when her stepfather Phineas Horton tried to revive his World War II creation the original Human Torch.

Incredible Hulk #267. Glorian

Bruce, Rick and Betty decide to return to Bruce's old cave in the desert, in order to work, yet again, on a cure for the scientist.

But fate intervenes when Glorian shows up in a nearby town and starts making the residents' dreams come true.

For some reason, this can't be allowed, and a fight soon ensues.

Iron Man #154, the Unicorn

The Unicorn reappears. 

And he's gone completely round the bend. 

If I'm not mistaken, after defeating Iron Man, he ends the tale by deciding to walk all the way to Russia.

Unfortunately, there's an entire ocean between America and Russia and, therefore, walking there is a great way for him to accidentally drown himself.

Amazing Spider-Man #224, the Vulture

The Vulture's been hospitalized and is in poor spirits but makes a rapid recovery when he befriends Aunt May's life-affirming fiancé. 

Suitably reinvigorated, the criminal resumes his career of larceny, choosing to hide-out in May's nursing home.

Of course, this leads to the inevitable scrap with Spider-Man.

Captain America #265, Sultan

Our hero's captured by the Sultan, causing Spider-Man and Nick Fury to rush to the rescue.

Unfortunately, the issue ends with our heroes plunging from the sky, and the villain firing a nuke at the nation's capital.

Thor #316, the Bi-Beast

It's nice to see the Bi-Beast back, and fighting someone other than the Hulk.

Fired from his job, Don Blake takes on a new role as doctor on a ship belonging to Stark Industries.

Needless to say, it all takes a turn for the worse when the Bi-Beast captures the vessel, looking to turn its crewmen into his own personal army.

X-Men #153, Kitty Pryde

It's a very odd tale, as Kitty decides to tell the youthful Ilyana Rasputin a fairy tale to get her to nod off.

A fairy tale in which all the characters are weird variants of the X-Men.

Spectacular Spider-Man #62

I've a feeling the Gold Bug decides to pull off a major heist, in order to restore his credibility with the mob.

But the 24-carat moron manages to steal a highly radioactive something-or-other from ESU. A something-or-other that puts him and the mobsters he's trying to impress in deadly peril.

Wasn't Moonstone out to pull off an impressive crime to rebuild her credibility with the mob, last issue?

Things are starting to look more than a little familiar in Spideyland.

Thursday 6 January 2022

January 6th 1982 - 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
***

The start of 1982 was a great time if you had a silly haircut, a couple of synths and two singing dancers who couldn't really sing or dance that well.

That's because you were the Human League and you were ruling the roost on both the British singles and album charts. Don't You Want Me? was seeing off the challenge of Bucks Fizz's Land of Make Believe in the 45 rpm stakes, while Dare was thwarting the challenge of ABBA when it came to 33 & 1/3.

Could life get any more exciting if you were that band?

Yes, it could. Because, on top of that, you could be reading the eighty-five million comics Marvel UK had out at the time.

X-Men Winter Special #1, Marvel UK

It's got no date on the front of it and even the copyright statement on its opening page doesn't give a year of publication.

However, its inside front cover features a house ad for Marvel UK's recent 1981-1982 annuals, as featured on this very blog.

Therefore, we can be assured it's a special for this very winter.

And what thrills we get.

For a start, it asks the vital question, "What If the Phoenix Had Not Died?"

I'm pretty sure Marvel UK hasn't yet published the tale in which she does die. So, I'm not sure its publication is the greatest piece of timing ever seen, what with it being a humongous great spoiler.

Then again, I remember a Marvel UK calendar once giving away the fact Gwen Stacy was going to die. Therefore, the company can be said to have form in such matters.

But, this being a special, we don't only get that. We're also presented with the Angel's origin and the story of how he joined the team, as originally recounted in Uncanny X-Men #55 and #56.

Marvel Classics Comics #7, Marvel UK

It's Marvel Classics Comics #7 and it's a total mystery.

Try as I might, I've not been able to discover anything about it or of its contents.

I do know, though, that there are only five more issues to go before cancellation smacks it straight in its classic face.

Marvel Superheroes #381, Scarlet Witch

It's time for us to learn more of the origin of Wanda and Pietro.

And it turns out their real father's Magneto!

Or, possibly, he's not.

Or, possibly, he's a mad old puppeteer.

Or, possibly, he's not.

By now, I'm thoroughly confused.

Also confused is Captain Britain who's been devolved into a monkey.

Fortunately, he quickly reverts to human form.

Which sounds like good news but then he's attacked by the Status Crew who've been sent after him by the home secretary.

Finally, in this month's 1960s Avengers reprint, we get more action from the original Red Guardian, as we discover more about the Black Widow's background.

Doctor Who monthly #60

The mag dedicated to our favourite sci-fi show presents an episode guide that spans Spearhead from Space to Terror of the Zygons and, no doubt, everything in between.

Not only that but we also get features dedicated to Planet of the Spiders, Sarah Jane Smith and K9.

Spider-Man #22, the Green Goblin

Unless I miss my ever-loving guess, this is the one in which the Green Goblin discovers Spider-Man's true identity and Spider-Man discovers the Green Goblin's.

Clearly, only the death of one of them can sort this mess out.

But whose death?

Whose?

Savage Action #15

It's the end for the savagest, most actionest comic Marvel UK's ever produced, as the mag hits the buffers after just fifteen issues.

Does it do so with style?

I don't know but I do know it goes out with adventures for Man-God, Night Raven and Brother Voodoo.

The Brother Voodoo tale's entitled The Resurrection of Papa Jambo and, in it, our hero travels to Haiti to stop Dramabu and his zombie army.

I keep misreading it as, "Drambuie." I'm not sure what that says about me.

We also get a two-page interview with artist John Stokes.

Super Spider-Man TV Comic #461

I don't have a clue what happens in this one but I do know it's going to give us the chance to win a TV.

And, once we have that, we can watch Spider-Man's TV show!

Blockbuster #8, Iron Fist

Can anything save Iron Fist as he comes up against the menace of Scimitar?

Looking at that cover, one hesitates to point out that Scimitar's clearly going to be hit by the train before Iron Fist is. This does seem a major flaw in his plan.

In other news, Colleen's been brainwashed by Angar and now hates Iron Fist.

Elsewhere, the Inhumans are in a tale called Star-Search: Dust and Demons. A tale, of which, I know nothing.

Finally, Omega rescues Teresa and holds someone called El Gato to a draw.

Blake's 7 #4, Marvel UK

I don't know too much about the innards of this one but I do know we get a full-colour poster of Servalan, and an 8-page comic strip called Battle Cruiser. A strip of which I know only that it's drawn by Ian Kennedy

Still, excitement's guaranteed because, this month, we could win ten Earth Invader games.

I'm assuming Earth Invader is some sort of Space Invaders knock-off and I will, therefore, be terrible at it.

Captain America #46, Marvel UK

Judging by that cover, Cap's still laying siege to that castle on that mountain. The one in which a young girl's being held captive, and everything keeps going weird.

But, first, he has to deal with a man who wants to sit on top of him.

And, it seems, from the front cover blurb, that we get yet another retelling of the shield slinger's origin.

Tragically, I know nothing of this week's other strips but I do know we get a poster of The Thing, "as he appears in the TV cartoon show."

Which TV cartoon show isn't exactly clear.

Future Tense #41, the Micronauts

I was about to say Marvel UK's premier sci-fi adventure mag is still going strong but it seems this is the last-ever issue and none of its strips continue in any other books.

How much style does it go out in?

That I cannot say.

But I can say the main tale features the Micronauts and is titled Betrayal.

In his strip, Captain Marvel's summoned into the Shadow Realm to defend its inhabitants from the Screamers.

And, in this month's Star Trek strip, we get more of the tale the world knows as We Are Dying, Egypt, Dying!

Fantastic Four pocket book #22, Marvel UK

I do detect the story in which Benjamin J Grimm finds himself abducted to another world and has to fight Torgo the robot, for the entertainment of Skrulls who think they're 1930s gangsters.

Savage Sword of Conan #51, Marvel UK

While other Marvel UK mags falter, Conan's monthly keeps trundling right along.

And, this time, we're treated to The Gem In the Tower, adapted from an L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter short story of the same name.

On top of that, we're offered The Return of Sir Richard Grenville which appears to be based on a Solomon Kane based poem by Robert E Howard.

Marvel Madhouse #8

More merry madhouse mayhem from Marvel.

The Empire Strikes back monthly #153, marvel uk

Here's an exciting prospect because this month's Empire Strikes Back yarn's from the offices of Steve Moore and Alan Davis and is titled Dark Knight's Devilry.

Not so excitingly, I don't have a clue what else happens in this issue.

Rampage Magazine #43, the X-Men

Judging by that cover, I'm going to assume this is the X-Men tale in which Moira's testing Jean's powers, on Muir Island.

Unfortunately, for everyone concerned, Jean's starting to have hallucinations caused by Mastermind.

And then Moira discovers Proteus has escaped!

Sadly, I've been able to discover nothing about this month's back-up strips.

X-Men pocket book #22, El Tigre

It would appear the X-Men are up against the maddening menace of El Tigre.

He's a man I know nothing about but, judging by his name, I would assume his mischief-making's based in either Central or South America.

Chiller pocket book #22, Dracula

It looks like bad news for Vlad, as his worst enemies have him cornered.

From the cover, I'm going to conclude this reprints Tomb of Dracula #13 in which the indomitable vampire hunters pursue the fiend into the English countryside, and Blade manages to kill him.

However, we shouldn't mourn the killer count too soon, as I have it on good authority that he's back, next week.

Worzel Gummidge magazine #4, Marvel UK

The UK's most popular scarecrow hits his fourth issue and does so offering us the chance to win four giant Worzel and Aunt Sally dolls.

Upon seeing the word, "giant," why did I immediately assume they're life-sized and, instantly, have terrible fears about what they'll be used for?

Starburst #41, Marvel UK

The king of British sci-fi mags is back and takes a look at Heavy Metal. The film, not the music genre.

We also see the return of the Fantasy Females photo gallery, including Joanna Lumley, Jane Seymour, Jenny Agutter and the inevitable Caroline Munro.

And there's an interview with film director Michael Armstrong

But, perhaps most excitingly for fans of horror cinema, there's Part One of a history of Amicus, the production company that dared to challenge Hammer.