Thursday 21 September 2023

September 22nd, 1973 - Marvel UK, 50 years ago this week.

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

Roy Wood's Wizzard are, perhaps, best remembered for two songs; See My Baby Jive and perennial Yuletide favourite I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day.

It is, therefore, easy to forget they had other major hits as well.

And one of the biggest was a thing called Angel Fingers which proved just how big it was by hitting the Number One spot on the UK singles chart, this week in 1973. It has to be said it was noticeably similar to all their other hits.

The British album chart, meanwhile, was seeing an assault from an act of a whole other style, with the Rolling Stones' Goat's Head Soup smashing straight in at Number One. Who would have thought, back then, that fifty years later to the week, they'd still be around and still bothering the chart compilers?

The Avengers #1

Wait! What's this? A brand new mag's hit our newsagents? And it stars the team who've recently been dominating The Mighty World of Marvel at the Hulk's expense?

It's true. A brand new era starts for the UK imprint. One which even goes so far as to bring us the magic of glossy covers. Truly, things will never be the same again.

Well, not until 1979 when Dez Skinn will consign glossy covers for weeklies to the dustbin of history, sensing that what British readers want most from their comics is a drastic reduction in quality.

And I must declare that this issue arrives with more cover blurbs and fonts than I've ever before seen on the front of a comic.

But what actually happens inside the thing?

Plenty happens.

For one thing, we get the return of Captain America after the Sub-Mariner throws a mysterious block of ice into the sea and it turns out to contain the hero, trapped in suspended animation since World War II.

Retrieved and thawed out by the Avengers, Cap helps the gang tackle a space alien who's blundering around New York, turning people to stone.

As if that's not enough melodrama for any human being to withstand, we also get the origin of Dr Strange when top surgeon Stephen Strange damages his hands in an accident and seeks the Tibetan-style help of a mysterious and aged mystic....

Spider-Man Comics Weekly #32

No signs, though, of glossy covers for Spidey. His mag is still as matt as matt can be.

He's also lumbered with a rubbish villain when failed fighter Joe Smith tries his hand at acting, dresses up as a robotic monster and is zapped by enough electro-chemical mayhem to send him on an orgy of destruction.

Elsewhere, Thor's about to encounter a villain of far more staying power than that, thanks to the arrival of the maddening menace of the Absorbing Man.

And our tale of Asgard, this week, involves Thor and Loki, as boys, invading the castle of a bunch of storm giants, in order to steal stuff from them.

The Mighty World of Marvel #51, the Space Parasite

Now that the Avengers have gone, Hulkie-Baby can return to bossing Marvel UK's flagship title.

And he immediately finds himself up against the Space Parasite who, after watching a TV show about our hero, visits Earth to steal the jade giant's power, so he can use it to further his plans for interplanetary conquest.

Sadly, for the villain, representatives of his home planet take against him and decide to blow up his spaceship.

Meanwhile, the Fantastic Four must fight three criminals who've been recruited by Dr Doom to help him destroy the team.


McSCOTTY said...

I loved Wizzards chart singles and remember buying "Angel Fingers (a teen ballad)" in Woolworths, I still have my copy in the loft. Of course the big music news was that the classic Bowie single "The Laughing Gnome" was beginning it's assault on the charts, and on most peoples nerves and embarrassing poor Soggy no end!.Still he was doing well in the album! charts with the truly classic Alladin Sane and Ziggy Stardust LPs.

The Avenger weekly was such big news at the time with its glossy cover and it's stunning free gift of an Avengers (cardboard) gun in issue 2!!!!. I really liked that Spider-Man story "Just a guy named Joe" which was Ditko's last issue of Spider-Man, although the next issue was John Romita's classic intro on the title with a great Green Goblin tale. I have that MWOM issue in my loft, but I can't recall anything about its contents.

McSCOTTY said...

Ziggy not soggy ruddy autocorrect !

Colin Jones said...

Soggy Stardust :D

Steve, Star Wars Weekly retained its' glossy cover in 1979 - in fact, SWW was left completely unchanged by the Marvel Revolution, both the cover and the comic's contents.

Simon B said...

I don't remember that Spidey issue at all ( maybe my pocket money didn't stretch that far that week ) but I remember the MWOM cover and its deep, vibrant colours. I bought a job lot of MWOMs a few years ago and my copy of this one has lovely white pages which make the colours even better.
Of course, the big event that week ( with apologies to Roy Wood ) was the appearance of Avengers Weekly! Even ( gulp! ) 50 years later, I can still remember the thrill of first seeing that comic with its awesome cover artwork, ridiculous amount of cover blurbs, and... that glossy cover! It may seem strange to people now ( kids nowadays, eh? etc. ) but the glossiness of the cover was A Big Deal in 1973. It was almost as if our beloved UK reprint comics were growing up and joining the big leagues of *American* *comics*!I mean, the interior pages were still B&W with some horrendously murky printing, but it was a step in the right direction.
( I've just realised I've used the word "that" a lot in this comment. I'll try not to do that again.
Bugger. )

Steve W. said...

McScotty, I'd pay good money to own a copy of Soggy Stardust.

Colin, you are, indeed, correct.

Simon, I don't recall that Spidey issue either. I do strongly recall the MWOM issue though. I remember walking home from the shops with it, one Saturday morning. For whatever reason, the Space Parasite made an indelible impression upon me.

Anonymous said...

That Avengers #1 cover really needs a word balloon to go with all the captions, blurbs, fonts and whatnot.
I get why Giant-Man isn't on the cover - although I suspect readers might have been a bit underwhelmed by the reveal inside the comic - but where's the wondrous Wasp?

Don't think I've ever heard a Wizzard record that wasn't See My Baby Jive or that Christmas one. Not that I'm too bothered. Its not like I'm missing out on anything, right?
But Steve, when it comes to music, how come you forgot to mention that the first Northern Soul all-nighter at t' Wigan Casino happened this week 50 years ago? What kind of northerner are you?
The best nightclub in the world back in the 70s according to Billboard magazine, ahead of Studio 54.

Although I expect in fact the best would have been the Shrine in Lagos. It was all happening in Nigeria in September '73. Wings were there recording their shortly to be released new album... which isn't that interesting imo, but whats a Steve Does Comics comment thread without a mention of Paul McCartney?. More to the point, Fela Kuti released his 'Gentleman' LP -
And, showing that Afrobeat was taking off more generally, the first album by the amazing BLO came out -


Colin Jones said...

The Autumnal Equinox occurs at 07:50 BST today - summer 2023 is officially over!

Today is also the 1st anniversary of THAT budget from Truss & Kwarteng.

Anonymous said...

THAT fiscal event, Colin. They were very insistent that it was a fiscal event, not a budget.
Apparently Trussonomics would have made Britain great again, but the deep state left-wing metropolitan elitists of the Tory party, Bank of England, and City traders sabotaged it.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Compare the Avengers above to Giant Size Avengers #1 (68 pages for $.50). They sure do have a similar vibe: similar positioning of characters, Thor in the center, white background, word balloons out the wazoo. Is it fair to conclude the UK Avengers above inspired it?

Boy, I feel bad you guys had to deal with black and white. That said, Marvel has made a lot of hay reprinting their comics in black and white archives for a good 15 -20 years now? I personally don't care for it, having read them in color for so long.

I did enjoy B/W newspaper comics though: Dick Tracy, Little Orphan Annie, Dondi, Steve Canyon (Milton Caniff), Alley Oop... Ah well, those days are gone.

Charlie - Feeling Nostalgic in Chicago

Charlie Horse 47 said...

INDEED! What is an SDC without referencing Sir Paul!

A few months on and I still chuckle about Paul having to ask a 14-year-old Donny Osmond for an autograph in Paris 51 years ago.

And indeed 50 years ago the Osmond clan was tearing up the UK pop charts!

Tomorrow is Saturday morning. Harken back to those thrilling days of yesteryear, with Charlie, when the Osmonds and the Jackson 5 were competing with each other on the Saturday morning cartoons!

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Just curious... there are only 10 EPL games in a weekend.

Why in the world do they have the two best games on at the same time, on Sunday no less?

Arsenal-Tottenham and Liverpool-Westham

And even Chelsea - Aston Villa and Brighton-Bournemouth have some promise.

FWIW (not much?) Charlie is following the Hammers (because of DW) and Brighton... well because they hold promise. I guess I should look on a map to at least figure out were West Ham is and Brighton, lol.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Lastly, have any of you UK gents seen a "Dry Stone Wall Laying" competition? I guess it's popular there? Apparently King Charles is on the judging committee?

I think it would be more fun than watching a "hedge laying" competition?

Any of you guys still reflexively call him Prince Charles? Can't wait to hear His Majesty's Most Gracious Speech at Xmas!!!

Colin Jones said...

King Charles made a State Visit to France this week, Charlie.

No, I've never seen a dry stone-wall laying competition - sounds fun though.

Anonymous said...

Disappointed to read that the French didn't bring out Madame la Guillotine for the British king. Apparently they've even stopped rioting.

Charlie, I expect DW will appreciate you taking an interest in West Ham - they do say misery loves company!
Only kidding, DW. Didn't you say something a while back about being in the UK this month? Enjoy the game and your eel, pie & mash...


Anonymous said...

I was in London last week and saw West Ham Man City at the London stadium. Great first half (1:0 to the Irons) and even though we ended up losing it was nice to see the top two Premier league sides in action. Both DW juniors saw West Ham win in the Europa league on Thursday night. I saw Dawn French at the Palladium with Mrs DW having already bought the tickets (Dawn French) before the Europa draw. Currently in Cornwall where it’s very wet.

Charlie, I have a sneaky suspicion we’ll get something at Anfield tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

I had Avengers #1 but a few years after it’s original release. A kid at school gave it to me. Obviously he had no idea of it’s true value 😉 it was a great issue.


Anonymous said...

But did you had any eels last week, DW?


Anonymous said...

Duh. Not sure how that happened.


Anonymous said...

I did have a large Jellies eels in Old Leigh. First in twelve years and still better than anticipated.