Thursday 28 September 2023

September 29th, 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

It's not often an instrumental hits the summit of the UK singles chart but it happened this week in 1973, as the Simon Park Orchestra achieved triumph with Eye Level which I do believe to have been the theme tune to the Amsterdam-based detective series Van der Valk.

I also believe that some Freeview channel or other is currently re-showing that series.

On the British album chart, there was no change from last week, with the Rolling Stones' Goat's Head Soup still reigning supreme.

The Avengers #2, the Lava Men

Things heat up dramatically, as the Avengers find themselves confronted by the volcanic violence of the vexatious Lava Men!

I would tell you exactly what happens in the tale but I can't recall anything about it. Is this another one where the bad guys can adopt the appearance of other people?

Doctor Strange's adventure, on the other hand, is a whole other kettle of fish. I remember this one completely. Mostly because it was in Origins of Marvel Comics.

It's the one in which a man plagued by bad dreams calls in the Sorcerer Supreme, only for it to turn out the notorious nocturnal ne'er-do-well Nightmare's behind it all. And that Strange's client is a murderer!

I do believe this was the first Dr Strange tale ever to be created but Marvel UK's clearly decided it makes sense to reprint it after the good doctor's origin story which was reproduced last week.

But what's this? There's a free gift, this issue? And it's an, "Avengers' Wonder Weapon?" Is it a hammer? Is it a shield? Is it a repulsor ray generator? Or even a wasp stinger?

McScotty's That Was Then and Mark A Wilson's Power of the BeeSting both inform me it was a cardboard gun powered by rubber bands.

I suspect Tony Stark wasn't involved in its design.

Spider-Man Comics Weekly #33, the Green Goblin

John Romita's pencil arrives with a bang, as Spider-Man has a fateful battle with the Green Goblin. One that will see him, at last, discover the true identity of a foe who, up until now, has been more minor annoyance than arch-enemy.

Meanwhile, in Thor's strip, Loki's sorcery transforms habitual jailbird Crusher Creel into the Absorbing Man!

However, the thunder god's battle with the copycat crook is cut short, as our hero must rush to Asgard to rescue Jane Foster who's been abducted by the dastardly Loki.

And, finally, we get a Tale of Asgard in which the youthful Thor must fend off the enemies of Asgard until help arrives.

The Mighty World of Marvel #52, Hulk vs the Rhino

Marvel UK continuity breaks down badly, as the Rhino makes his Hulk debut before he's made his Spider-Man debut. 

Regardless, now out of prison, the thick-headed and thick-skinned villain is contacted by the men who first gave him his costume and they offer to up his power level.

Now, it seems, nothing can stop him! Nothing!

Apart from the Hulk who totally flattens him at the airport and then leaves him for dead.

Elsewhere, the Fantastic Four are still struggling to overcome three minor crooks that Doctor Doom has imbued with strange powers.


Steve W. said...

I've just noticed that people have been talking about Van der Valk in the comments section of the previous post. What a strange coincidence.

dangermash said...

No skrull invasion type stuff going in in that Avengers story Steve. The lava men have some sort of giant jewel that keeps getting bigger and bigger and will help them conquer the surface world. Even as I write this down it's not making any sense. One of the Avengers works out that to destroy the jewel it has to be hit really hard in one particular spot. The hulk turns up and ant man stands on the spot, goads the hulk and jumps out of the way when hulk tries to smash him. So after hulk left the team in avengers #2, he turned up in #3 and #5. Maybe Stan was trying to keep his options open.

Doctor Strange story is his first US appearance. I think his origin stir6 from last week was his third or fourth US appearance?

I'm getting SMCW every week now and that won't change until the Dezz Skinn revolution.

Anonymous said...

Strange coincidence... or simply the acausal weave of synchronicity, Steve?


Anonymous said...

In that first Dr Strange story he was the Asian character Steve Ditko created, before Marvel decided on return appearances and changed him to a white geezer.


Colin Jones said...

The 'Radio Times' is 100 years old!! The first issue featured the radio listings for Sep 30th-Oct 6th 1923.

FUN FACT: I've had 2 letters printed in the 'Radio Times' (in 1984 and 2014) and I've written only 3 letters to RT in total so that's a 66.33333% success rate!

Anonymous said...

Wasn't that first Doc Strange story kind of a one-off? It was either about a haunted house or some criminal being tormented by Nightmare.
Maybe it was a two-off. I figure when Stan saw promise in the character he told Ditko to make him a Caucasian.
Who knows what Ditko thought about that. Y'know, he's a hard guy to figure out. Hard-core objectivist. Like, right is right, wrong is wrong. A is only A. No moral ambiguity whatsoever. Peter Parker had to stay a teenager, because that was the last point in a person's life they could be excused for screwing up. (I'm not even gonna comment on that)
Yet his art on Doctor Strange was all about chaos and weirdness...


dangermash said...

You need to write in 297 more times and get 197 letters published to get a success rate like that Colin — donnish dabngermash

Anonymous said...

Totally aside but still pop and british… i just heard that Human League’s Mirror Man was about Adam Ant believing his own hype??? I assume Adam Ant had many more top 10 and #1 hits than HL?

Colin Jones said...

Thanks Dangermash (I think) - but my Radio Times letter-writing days are behind me as I don't buy the magazine anymore.

Charlie, you're correct that Adam Ant had more UK #1 hits than the Human League. Adam Ant had three (Stand & Deliver, Prince Charming and Goody Two-Shoes) while Human League had only one (Don't You Want Me). But in America the Human League had two #1 hits (Don't You Want Me and Human) while Adam Ant had none.

dangermash said...

I just checked out my Doctor Strange Marvel Masterwork.

After this appearance, he appeared the following month against Mordo, then had two months off, then came back for a long run, first in a Mordo rematch, then in his fourth appearance we got the origin story from Avengers #1.

As for losing the oriental look, it's hard to pin that down to one particular month. It looked like two things happened: arched eyebrows being replaced by normal ones and permanently closed eyes replaced with open. And it looks to me as if both of these changes were gradually phased through rather than being discontinuous jumps.

dangermash said...

Ah, or maybe the stories were published in a different order to their creation, with an origin story being done in a hurry and brought forward, pushing everything back a month. That might explain why I can't see a single step change.

Colin Jones said...

I love those early Dr Strange stories. I first read them in a paperback-sized collection which I bought, aged 12, in December 1978. Each story was only about seven pages long but that was more than enough for Lee & Ditko to tell a thrilling tale.

Steve W. said...

Charlie, in the UK, Adam Ant had 10 Top Ten hits, while the Human League had 8 Top Ten hits.

Dangermash, thanks for the Lava Men info. I think I was getting them mixed up with the Carbon Copy Men.

Anonymous said...

Nothing against the Human League, but I rather prefer Adam Ant.
I dunno what was going in the U.K. music world then, but nothing else in the U.S. sounded like him.
At least anything I ever heard. And heck, I'm a sucker for an act with a good drum beat and a horn section.


Redartz said...

Human League and Adam Ant ? Both are music to these ears. Buuuuuut, if forced, I'd pick the League. Primarily on the strength of "Dare"/"Love and Dancing".

M.P.- Yes, Ditko was a hard one to figure, but he sure had a unique style! Wonder how his "Hawk and the Dove" would have differed if he'd done it at Marvel...

B Smith said...

I'm sure pop tragics everywhere will tell you that "Eye Level" was originally a piece of library music selected and used for the "Van Der Valk" theme.

However, I did read in an ancient issue of "Disc" that the music was originally recorded by a group of session musicians in France, and the record company asked Simon Park if they could put his name on it, in exchange for financial gain.

Steve W. said...

MP, was America ever exposed to the music of Bow Wow Wow? They were around at the same time and had the same sound as Adam and the Ants, mostly because they poached members of the Ants.

Red, I too prefer the Human League. The appeal of Adam Ant's music having always bypassed me.

Steve W. said...

B, thanks for the Eye Level info. It reminds me that Timeslip's epic, doom-laden theme tune was from a library music LP the producer unearthed at somewhere like a car boot sale.

Anonymous said...

Steve, the music of Bow Wow Wow did get airtime here probably around 1983? With I want candy. But at that time they were so so so many groups coming out… One hit wonders as it were. Maybe they get some airtime on the FM maybe they just got airtime in the Dancehall.

Personally, I never learned of the Adam ant Dash Bow Wow connection until a few years ago while going down a rabbit hole based on some post here at Steve, Doug Comics. In other words, the Malcolm McLaren connection and how he gutted Adams band to create Bow Wow Wow.

Anonymous said...

UK, gents! Whilst making rhubarb pie from scratch, my Mrs. was playing words with friends, and became very excited. While experimenting with the word khaki, she came up with khazi??? Lower (?) Cockney for toilet? You guys know the word? What is Lower (vs. Upper?) Cockney? Are you able to understand one versus the other?

dangermash said...

My estuary English probably makes me the closest we have to a cockney in the room. And I can tell you that I’ve never heard of such a thing as lower cockney. And khaki might be a cockney term for the bog but pretty well everyone in England will know and understand that word.

Colin Jones said...

And Kenneth Williams played the Khazi of Kalibar in Carry On Up The Khyber :D

Anonymous said...

Over the years I have actually developed a mild glottal stop, dangermash, and I haven't heard of 'lower cockney' either.
My suspicion is that in American the term 'cockney' is used to refer to Londoners in general, thús requiring further distinctions.


Anonymous said...

Talking about "cockney", a long time ago, probably 1989, I was in the army and was stationed in Germany. I took some leave time and visited the U.K.
For the record, I loved the place.
Anyway, I'm sitting in a bar in Soho, minding my own business, drinking a beer and soaking up the ambiance. This rough lookin' young dude comes in, orders a beer and starts chatting me up.
I didn't understand a goddam word he said. He was pointing at the TV on the wall. There was a soccer game going on.
He was pretty amped up. I think he took me for a fellow Englishman. Anyway, he finally got around to asking me a question, which I didn't understand. I didn't know what to say.
I simply gestured to the bartender and bought him a drink.
It worked! Completely diffused an otherwise awkward situation. Booze can break a lotta language and cultural barriers.
Maybe what he was speaking was "cockney", I dunno.
It was sorta like English, I guess...


Matthew McKinnon said...

MP - could have been any regional accent in the UK to be honest. Liverpool, Newcastle, Manchester. Birmingham, they all have their own extreme forms of pronunciation [but being in London, yeah, it probably was cockney].

McSCOTTY said...

When I worked in London in the late 80sxl early 90s I neer heard a Cockney accent,m until i visited Hackney. It not often a Glasgow accent is considered posh as one Cockney geezer said mine was lol .

Anonymous said...

Minder & the Sweeney's protagonists used (supposed) Cockney rhyming slang all the time, despite not being officially Cockneys. Perhaps chimney-sweep Dick Van Dyke was America's official Cockney/Londoner, in the past. Who knows?


Anonymous said...

By the late 80s Hackney was already being gentrified, Paul. So I suppose that's why someone would have been able to understand a posh Glaswegian accent.