Thursday 30 November 2023

December 1st 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

All fans of Papua New Guinea were, no doubt, delighted, this week in 1973, as it was the week in which those islands achieved self-government, having previously been run by Australia. 

I must confess that, before writing this post, I was not aware Papua New Guinea had ever been ruled by the land of Kylie. I can only assume it must have been some sort of holdover from World War II.

Spider-Man Comics Weekly #42, the New Vulture

What's this? A brand new Vulture? Who even wears a hat on his head? Can it be true?

Yes, it can! 

Apparently, the original version's managed to die in prison but, fortunately for all lovers of criminality, his cellmate Blackie Drago's been available to take his place.

Now what can stop that flying felon from defeating Spider-Man and becoming master of New York's airspace?

Not Spider-Man, that's for sure. It turns out the wall-crawler has a cold and promptly gets flattened by the feathery fiend, despite that fiend being rubbish by the standards of Spider-Man foes.

Thor, meanwhile, is still battling the Destroyer, Odin’s still asleep and Loki’s still trying to help the thunder god.

But can anyone possibly help our hero against such a deadly foe?

And will he even need it?

The Avengers #11

I've never read this story but what does instantly strike me is that its title must have provided inspiration for the later yarn Even An Android Can Cry. A fact of which I was previously ignorant. Truly, writing this blog is an educational experience worthy of the planet Earth's finest universities.

Apparently, the Wasp is on the verge of death - and only one surgeon can save her.

And it's not Don Blake.

Good grief, it's not even Dr Strange!

Amazingly, there's a third surgeon on the planet!

However, it turns out that, not only is he a whizz with a scalpel, he's also a space alien!

I can only assume this will fling endless trouble and obstacles in the path of the Wasp's recovery.

As for what Doctor Strange is up to in his own strip, I'm not totally sure but I do know the adventure's called The World Beyond and features the return of Nightmare.

The Mighty World of Marvel #61, Ka-Zar

Excitement is untrammelled because, for me, this is where the Hulk’s great era kicks off.

In this epic adventure, the Green galoot encounters the awesome power of Ka-Zar and his sabre–toothed tiger. 

I must confess that, when I read this, as a kid, it was the first time I'd ever encountered Ka-Zar and, because of that, I was under the impression he must be almost as strong as the Hulk.

Little did I know that he's just some bloke who shouts things.

But who cares about that? We’ve got the Savage land. We've got prehistoric monsters. We've got angry Marsh Men, and a giant robot called Umbu. Surely, no human being could ever demand more from a story.

 And it's not just the Hulk who's giving us classic fare, because the Fantastic Four are having their introductory scrap with the diabolical, chemical, chaos-causing criminality of a man the world knows only as Diablo.

What's his real name and why is a Medieval alchemist wearing a super-villain costume?

I've no idea but I do know he's managed the not altogether difficult feat of turning the Thing against his teammates.

Surely, it can only be a matter of instants before times are clobberinged and flames are on.


dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

The real question, though, is who would call their kid Blackie? This is the second Blackie to appear in the strip after Blackie Gaxton in ASM #11.

In Avengers we're past Heck's worst. Kirby is on layouts for a couple of issues and, after that, Heck will come back much stronger than before.

And finally my guess would be that the Even An Avenger… and Even An Android… have a common source somewhere in literary culture.

Anonymous said...

You're probably right about a common source for the title, dangermash, although I've no idea what it would be.

That Avengers story is the best of those early ones imo. Don't get me wrong, it is a bit stupid like the rest of them, and - despite Kirby on layouts - not particularly well drawn... but it also has something.
Avengers Weekly #11 is the first Marvel UK reprint I definitely remember getting, and while most of the story is pretty standard it veers off from formula toward the end, and the scene with the Watcher was unusually striking. You know, if you were an 8 year old kid.

Steve, while Papua New Guinea might have achieved 'self-government' it didn't actually become independent til 1975. Although what that actually means when their head of state, like Australia's, is still the British monarch is debatable.
Mind you, on the plus side it looks like part of the country will soon be a peoples republic of Bougainville.


Anonymous said...

Charlie was cofounded by the Spidey cover, presumably by Kane, when this story was a Lee/Romita thing in the earlier days of Spidey.

And a google tells me that we are looking at the cover of Marvel Tales 34 instead of Spidey 48.

So it makes me wonder if Spider Man Comics Weekly was reprinting from a reprint i.e., Marvel Tales vs. the original.

Anonymous said...

Papua and New Guinea… if it weren’t for WW2, who’d a heard of it besides studies of “primitive” tribes, cannibalism rituals, etc.

Anonymous said...

What if the second Vulture met Gemini, from Zodiac? One half of Gemini is "Whitey" Link, the good twin. That way, "Whitey" & Blackie could meet up!


Anonymous said...

Who'd a heard of Papua New Guinea?

People with an interest in how the world seems to work maybe, particularly when it comes to the activities of large corporations and their political servants?

Sorry to be a bit boring there. Back to the comics...


Colin Jones said...

It's December 1st but Advent begins on December 3rd this year so if you've got an Advent calendar don't open the first two doors!

Shane MacGowan of The Pogues has died aged 65. 'Fairytale Of New York' was already a poignant song for me because it was released in 1987 which was my sister's final Christmas before she died in April '88 but now it's an even more poignant song because both Kirsty McColl and Shane MacGowan are gone.

Colin Jones said...

Tomorrow (Dec 2nd) BBC Radio 4-Extra is celebrating the 50th anniversary of 'The Wicker Man' with an evening of Wicker Man-themed programmes including a new radio adaptation of the film starring Brian Blessed as Lord Summerisle - I can't miss that!

Anonymous said...

Sad to read about Shane MacGowan. Following the passing of Sinéad O'Connor earlier in the year its a bit of a marker for the end of an era of Irish London. At least he got to 65 though - I don't think back in the day anyone would have put money on him lasting that long.

Meanwhile, in a reminder of the old adage about only the good dying young, the well known war criminal - and Marvel villain - Henry Kissinger made it to a 100 ):


Anonymous said...

Steve, I am frankly appalled at your dismissal of Ka-zar as “just some bloke who shouts things”. In addition to his mighty vocal chords, he also has a very pointy stone jammed on the tip of a stick. Surely that helps to even the odds against the Gamma-powered Gargantua.

But seriously, as drawn by Rowdy Ron Wilson, Lord Kevin is so pumped-up and parade-float proportioned, its little wonder your younger self thought he’d be a worthy opponent for Ol’ Greenskin.


Anonymous said...

Sean - Don't forget Dean Sullivan.


Anonymous said...

b.t. - I can relate to Steve's reaction, a bit. As a little kid, when seeing a superhero for the first time ever, your idea of how strong they were was based on what they looked like. For example, when I first saw Captain America, I thought he must have super strength, and be strong, like Spidey (admittedly, after the Viper's serum, Cap was). So, later, I was surprised to learn Cap was only 'peak human'.

Likewise, when the furry beast was fighting the Hulk (Mimic storyline's Hulk cover), I assumed the furry beast must be pretty darn strong! Later, well - he wasn't quite THAT strong!

With his long, blond hair, if Ka-zar dressed up as Thor, he'd be a lot more convincing than "Mike" Murdock!


Anonymous said...

Steve, how could you dismiss Ka-Zar as 'just some bloke who shouts things'?
He was a peer of the British realm who shouts things!
You cheeky Northern rascal.


Anonymous said...

Kevin's one of the least aristocratic names I can think of.


Steve W. said...

Colin, by a terrifying coincidence, last night, I was watching Witchfinder General and, the night before, I was watching Blood on Satan's Claw which, with The Wicker Man, make up the Holy Trinity of British Folk Horror movies.

Brian Blessed as Lord Summerisle will certainly be something to experience...

Sean, I'm with Phillip. There's absolutely no way a man called Kevin is of the aristocracy.

Having said that, there's no way a man called Brian Braddock is of the aristocracy either.

I can only comment that "Bougainville" totally lacks the glamour and mystique of "Papua New Guinea." Then again, I still haven't got over them renaming Constantinople. For that matter, I haven't got over them renaming Byzantium.

Bt, I agree.

Charlie and Dangermash, thanks for your comments too. :)

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Building on SEAN's theme of FAR-FLUNG GEOGRAPHY and COMICS (to try and stay relevant, lol...)

Anyone out there ever see the commercials for the BATMAN show on TV in the mid-60s. In Chicagoland they were on the TV daily probably until mid to late 70s b/c BATMAN was in syndication, at least on WGN CHANNEL 9.

One of the scenes, which became a staple of boy banter, was where BATMAN and ROBIN were behind their transparent BAT SHIELD while being machine gunned! (By Penguin's gang?)


Dare I say only someone cultured in WW2 would have / has heard of Guadalcanal, The Solomons, Iron-Bottom Sound, the ass-kicking the Japanese gave the US Navy in August 1942...

I mean, little Charlie did b/c he was the post-WW2 generation and got to see shows like COMBAT, RAT PATROL, BAA BAA BLACK SHEEP, HOGAN'S HEROES, etc on TV.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Now if someone can tell me why, in the BATMAN TV show, ROBIN often said, "HOLY [whataever] BATMAN!" Where does that come from???

And speaking of WW2, one of my many FB Rabbit Holes is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the UKs incredible "THE WORLD AT WAR" series!

What a series! And the intro/exit music! And Sir Lawrence Olivier's voice narrating. It's worth a trip to your local library to watch the DVDs. Did so last XMAS and probably will again! Watching the Germans get destroyed at XMAS 1942 at Stalingrad... It can put the season in perspective and make one feel grateful.

Anonymous said...

Charlie - About a week ago, to get back off to sleep, I was listening to a podcast about UFOs & bigfoot (!!!), on Guadalcanal:


Charlie Horse 47 said...

How interesting PHILLIP!

My latest and greatest FB rabbit hole is "Human Evolution." I did not realize that various tribes in the pacific islands seems to have DNA, exclusive to them (not across all humans) from some long lost branch of hominids (hopefully hominids).

So who knows. Maybe BIG FOOT is alive and well running around the SOLOMONS. That's fine by me. Get him out of the USA!

Anonymous said...

Those 2 Australian blokes have an encyclopedic knowledge about such stuff. They never cease to amaze me! They were discussing, in depth, some book by a bloke named Marius Boirayon, entitled: "Soloman Island Mysteries". This is the blurb:

Near where the sunken warships of the Battle of Guadalcanal lie, glowing UFOs rise out of the Pacific, fly into the mountains and disappear into jungle lakes. Here, a tropical paradise exists with inexplicable, ancient ruins and puzzling writing of an unknown culture. Steamy, rugged mountain ranges are inhabited by strange, Sasquatch-like creatures. They have come down to the villages to kidnap the locals for generations. Terrifying stories of abduction and cannibalism are passed on by the villagers to their children. These are some of the incredible tales that the Solomon Islanders have lived with for decades, and you will read about in this spellbinding book--page 4 of cover


Anonymous said...

Cellar Club's showing one of the Dr. Phibes films. John Thaw(Regan)'s just been pecked to death by a bird of prey!


Anonymous said...

Charlie - I think that podcast claimed there were 3 types of bigfoot on the island - one that was a smaller one (the lost hominid branch, perhaps?) If it's an island, though, why can't the authorities just round the bigfoots up - after all, they've got nowhere to go! That being said, I think there's a lot of dense rain forest (or something) around the island's mountain!

Well, Phibes got away, having outplayed the "goodies" - who weren't all that good!


Colin Jones said...

The new UK singles chart is filling up with Christmas songs as you'd expect by now. The highest-placed festive tunes are Wham! at #5 and Mariah Carey at #6 but Wizzard have entered the chart at #55 and Slade at #70, both in their 50th anniversary year. Charlie will be pleased that Andy Williams has risen to #29 and there are TWO versions of 'Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow' by Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.

In a shock move, Ladbaby has announced he won't be releasing a song this year after achieving 5 Christmas Number Ones in a row. I was watching the video for 'Fairytale Of New York' and a number of comments wanted it to finally reach #1 as a tribute to Shane MacGowan (FONY made #2 at Xmas '87) but that's probably unlikely as this year's Ladbabyless festive top spot will most likely go to Wham! or Mariah.

Colin Jones said...

Kevin is indeed an absurd name for a member of the British aristocracy and, as Steve said, Brian Braddock is equally unlikely but over at The Guardian's opinion site "Brian" is a popular nickname for King Charles in the comments!

Colin Jones said...

Did anyone watch the Doctor Who 60th anniversary special? I think I'll give them a miss but apparently Davros has been completely re-invented as a normal able-bodied human because Russell T Davies decided the old Davros was offensive to people in wheelchairs!

Colin Jones said...

David Tennant and Catherine Tate were obviously brought back because of falling viewing figures and if those figures don't improve it might not be long before Dr Who is cancelled for a second time!

Anonymous said...

COLIN! Love the xmas chart updates! Hard to believe i been periodically tuning in to them soncet1 November on 93.9 FM!

BAND ON THE RUN was released 50’years ago this week! Sir PAUL’s 5th post-BEATLES and best selling album. Got to wonder if it disrupted the xmas charts in 1973.

Colin Jones said...

Charlie, the Beatles' NOW AND THEN reached #1 here in the UK but didn't fare so well in the USA. It entered the Billboard Hot 100 at #7 but dropped out of the chart completely just two weeks later. In America NOW AND THEN was briefly "now" but quickly became "then".

Colin Jones said...

I've been watching 'King Kong' (1933) on BBC iplayer - you can't beat the classic original. I first saw 'King Kong' on TV at Christmas 1976 when 1933 was only 43 years in the past - the same distance we are now from 1980.

Colin Jones said...

The radio adaptation of 'The Wicker Man' was OK but it didn't include any of the film's atmospheric folk songs.

Luckily the original film version is on BBC Four on Tuesday night!