Thursday 14 December 2023

December 15th 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

No one loves science more than the owner of this website does.

Thus it is that I'm thrilled to report it was this week in 1973 that Brian Josephson shared the Nobel Prize in Physics for his theoretical predictions of the properties of a supercurrent through a tunnel barrier. In particular, those phenomena which are generally known as the Josephson effects.

Not only that but Geoffrey Wilkinson and Ernst Otto Fischer won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, for their pioneering work, performed independently, on the chemistry of the organometallic sandwich compounds.

Much as I love sandwiches, I'm perfectly happy to settle for them being kept in shops. I see no reason why they need entire compounds to store them in.

Over on the UK singles chart, the battle for Christmas supremacy reached overdrive, as Glam Rock gargantuans Slade smashed their way straight onto the Hit Parade at Number One, with their classic party-pleaser Merry Xmas, Everybody. Off the top of my head, I do believe it was their sixth Number One. Though, sadly, and surprisingly, it also turned out to be their last.

Over on the accompanying LP chart, events were dominated by far less rowdy fare, as David Cassidy's Dreams Are Nothin' More Than Wishes climbed serenely to the pinnacle.

The Mighty World of Marvel #63, Hulk

It's another Marvel masterpiece, as the aliens who created Umbu - the robot the Hulk destroyed, last week - visit Earth to find out just what kind of a being could stop their unstoppable creation.

They then make the mistake of taking him back home, where he can be recruited in a plot to destroy the Galaxy Master, a shouty, floating mouth who wants to rule the universe.

And, as we all know, if there's anyone who's never seen a gob he didn't want to punch, it's the Hulk.

But, after that tale, there's a shock.

And that's because this issue doesn't contain a Fantastic Four story.

Instead, it contains the true tale of the origin of Dr Doom, in which we learn how he started out as a poor young Romany boy, lost his mum, lost his dad, invented hair restorer, turned mud into gold, invented the bomb-proof caravan, blew himself up and ended up seizing the much-coveted throne of Latveria.

The Avengers #13

It's issue #13 and it's unlucky for some.

Those Some being fans of Iron Man, Giant-Man and Thor who all announce they're leaving the team they created.

Strangely, the cover blurb totally ignores the existence of the winsome Wasp who's also leaving. But how will the team ever survive without her?

Simple. It'll survive by recruiting a trio of well-known criminals.

Dr Strange, meanwhile, stars in a tale called Mordo Must Not Catch Me!

And I'm going to guess, from that title, that Baron Mordo's involved.

Spider-Man Comics Weekly #44

And it's another classic, as Peter Parker decides he shall no longer be Spider-Man.

At least, not until he sees a man who looks like Uncle Ben being put upon by robbers and, so, feels he has no choice but to intervene.

Not only does this story contain that historical event but I do believe it may very well be the first issue of any Marvel comic to feature the mountainous menace of the Kingpin.

Elsewhere, Thor visits the steel mills of Pittsburgh, to repair the hammer damaged, last week, by the Destroyer.

However, the thunder god's worries have only just begun, as he soon discovers Jane Foster's gone missing. 

And I do believe this is one of those very rare occasions when Marvel UK continuity stacks up because, at one point, he tries to contact the Avengers for help - only to discover that nearly all of them have quit and been replaced by new-fangled newcomers he doesn't like.


Anonymous said...

I forget what a young Charlie traded to get that ASM (#51?). And, though only read once and kept bagged and boarded since like 1975, the dreaded “Marvel Chipping” is eating the perimeter of the cover like mice on steroids got ahold of it!

Anonymous said...

COLIN - are Thursdays when we get your beloved XMas chart updates?!

Anonymous said...

I'm not really qualified to judge what kind of contribution those Nobel prize awardees you mentioned made to physics and chemistry, but I hope it was more useful to their respective fields than fellow 1973 winner Henry Kissinger's was to peace.

That was a pretty good guess about 'Mordo Must Not Catch Me', Steve - it does indeed involve Baron Mordo. How do you do it? Well done.


Anonymous said...

The unusual thing about that Dr Strange story - and last week's with Loki - is that Steve Ditko had an inker, George Bell (aka George Roussos) so the artwork looks a little too smooth.
Not that there's anything wrong with it, and its still distinctive... but you really notice the difference when Ditko goes back to drawing solo again in the next story - assuming the Avengers back up follows the original Strange Tales order - 'The Domain of the Dread Dormammu', which is a particularly way out one.


Colin Jones said...

Fridays, Charlie - the UK singles chart comes out every Friday.

Crashing straight in at No.1 was a rare achievement in those days and it didn't happen again until The Jam did it with GOING UNDERGROUND in March 1980.

The Slade song includes the famous line "Look to the future now, it's only just begun" which is rather ironic as Slade's mega-stardom and chart domination ended here. Slade had more UK #1 hits (6) than any other British artist in the '70s (only ABBA had more with 7) but after MERRY XMAS EVERYBODY Slade's popularity didn't last long and they disappeared from the charts except for a brief comeback in the '80s. But a Christmas-themed hit can be a kind of pop immortality - who would remember Slade, Brenda Lee, Bing Crosby, Wham! etc if not for their Christmas songs?

Anonymous said...

That’s a damn good point Colin! I never really thought of it but many US performers from the 1940s - 60s are likely only known by the younger generation via xmas tunes such as (as you mentioned) Bing and Brenda and also Burl Ives (Frosty), Nat King Cole (Chestnuts Roasting…), Dean Martin (Rudolph), Johnny Mathis (We need a little xmas…). Really a great observation! And it is interesting that though all these xmas hits have been done by dozens of others, there is THE favorite version that lives on 60-70 years later while the others fade away.

Colin Jones said...

Very true, Charlie - Bing Crosby's version of WHITE CHRISTMAS is the only one I like.

Do you know a song called GRANDMA GOT RUN OVER BY A REINDEER? I've been watching it on YouTube but it's completely unknown in the UK.

Anonymous said...

COLIN! (I’m sure Red will join in too!) That song was crazy popular in the late 1970s. I think it is still known among young folks due to the crazy lyrics but not played anywhere nearl as often as in the pre-internet era. Relative to other xmas tunes it gets scant airplay it seems.

I almost want to say it was popular same time as those 2 Canadian dudes Bob and Doug McKenzie hit the big time and everyone (young) was walking around saying “Take off hoser!” Ahhh…. the power of AM radio and the Top40 pre-internet!

Anonymous said...

Oh lord… my wife and I had to do it, eh! We just did the YouTube and looked up Bob and Doug McKenzie with Geddy Lee from Rush, eh!

“Take Off to the Great White North.”

She ain’t happy, eh! It’s a real ear worm feom like 1980, eh? It’ll be stuck in her head for days now especially considering how hugely popular it was. Eh?

I suspect it didn’t float over to the UK? Love to hear if MP, BT, Red remember it, eh?

McSCOTTY said...

I think amongst music geeks Slade will be remembered Colin, they were a great band in there time. I heard on Radio Scotland ( who were playing Christmas request songs) that Slade earn half a million pounds annually on that song ( downloads, air play, ads)

McSCOTTY said...

I don't know a lot aboot Rush eh.

Colin Jones said...

No, Bob & Doug McKenzie are unknown here, Charlie - I've never heard of them anyway.

Paul, I'm surprised that a lot more bands and singers didn't make a Christmas song considering it can be a nice little earner coming back year after year!

Colin Jones said...

Radio 4 is currently broadcasting the annual Reith Lectures and this year's lectures are being given by Professor Ben Ansell on the subject of democracy's future, can it survive etc - anyway in last Wednesday's lecture Professor Ansell used the phrase "I'll get my coat" which made me chuckle. Has he been reading Steve Does Comics??

Anonymous said...

Paul, my understanding is that its Noddy Holder and another fella from Slade - who between them wrote 'Merry Xmas Everybody' - rather than the band that actually make that money every year. With hits it's the writer royalties that are the big earner.

Who does know a lot aboot Rush, eh?
They've been called the biggest 'cult band' in the world, and its amazing how they managed to sell so many records for years without making much of an impression on a general audience. I mean, metal is a bit like that - a musical world of its own - but usually civilians are at least vaguely familiar with the bigger bands, and know a couple of signature tunes.
If they ever made a Christmas song I don't know what it was.

I'm aware that they were into Ayn Rand.
Maybe Steve Ditko was a fan...?


Anonymous said...

Dare I say it but various Rush album(s?) fall in the category of Prog Rock.

Sean- you are spot on. Most everyone has heard of rush, but they’d be damned if they could think of a song by them. “We are the Priests” did get a bit of FM play, usually later in the evening ;)


Anonymous said...

Charlie, I think “Tom Sawyer” was Rush’s big hit, their signature song, their “Stairway To Heaven”.


Steve W. said...

Spirit of Radio is the only Rush song I know. I remember it getting plenty of airplay when it came out but that's the only one the radio stations ever seemed interested in. I suspect the title may have had something to do with that.

Anonymous said...

The Temple of Syrinx is the only rush song i heard with some frequency. Rush’s “Stairway to Heaven” if you will. Like 15 minutes long (2 doobs worth, lol.)

But then getting Geddy to howl “Take Off to the Great White North” (literally ) with Bob and Doug McKenzie put Rush, Bob and Doug, and Canada smack-dab front-and-center in pop culture, eh?!

I think (i really dont know) Tom Sawyer came a bit later and was more palatable to FM listeners? Maybe their “Rock the Casbah” moment?

But as Sean succinctly summarized, Rush - you heard the name but only a die hard can name the music.


dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

dangermash owns every Rush studio album and doesn't remember any Christmas songs. Now that Neil Peart, drummer and lyrics writer, is no longer with us, I don't expect any Christmas songs to be forthcoming.

Nobody loves science more than this website? I'll let you have that one Steve. If you'd said physics rather than science, we might have had to put it to the vote.

Anonymous said...

DANGER MASH! Thank God, you brought up 12 angry men a few weeks ago! This week, at work, some managers were having a meeting and afterwards both of them made a point of swing by my office, on separate occasions, to ask me if I would like one of the donuts they had purchased for the meeting. I am at that point in life where I really don’t need to eat, or should not be eating, two donuts from the famous Weber’s bakery, (Archer Avenue in Chicago) before lunch lol.

But, just like Henry Fonda excepted the chewing gum, so did Charlie accept the donuts! Sometimes it’s more important to be a good guest than a good host, eh?!

Anonymous said...

Hey! I can’t remember, eh? Did you UK fellows have lunchboxes for going to school when you were a kid? The only reason I ask is because I was thinking of getting the banana splits club lunchbox I had back when I was about eight years old. And I just saw one go for like a couple hundred dollars on eBay. And truth, I don’t have a couple hundred dollars worth of interest in getting a banana splits club lunchbox, lol. But I was wondering if you guys had them? Eh?

I mean, I don’t recall Oor Woolie, , or Lord Snooty and his gang having lunch boxes, so…

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

Anyway, back to the comics. There are two great turning point pages this week:

- In Spider-Man there's a splash page in the middle of the story of Peter Parker walking away down an alley leaving his costume sticking out of a dustbin. Not too long ago I used that image in a LinkedIn post where I announced that I was giving up my actuarial qualification, seeing no use for it in retirement. Romita's artwork reflected my feelings perfectly.

- In Avengers (and assuming Marvel UK made no changes to the US version) the penultimate page in the story has Iron Man reflecting on his decision to leave the Avengers, knowing that it's the right thing to do but still sad that a piece of history has come to an end. I made some changes to the word balloons (surprisingly few actually) and emailed the resulting page around the office as a goodbye email on my final day in one particular job back in the noughties. It seemed to go down well, touch wood.

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

I don't know about banana splits lunchboxes but a few years ago Mrs Mash found some banana shaped banana cases in Poundland and bought me one. Just the right size to fit one banana and drop into my work bag where the case would prevent it from betting battered.

Nothing ever beat the feeling of opening that case in the middle of a meeting and taking the banana out. I felt like James Bond with his cigarette case at the casino in Doctor No.

Anonymous said...

Charlie - Rush, prog? I've heard that said before... but metal with a few more changes of time signature than usual does not make 'prog' imo!

The only Rush album I've heard all the way through is '2112', which iirc has the one about the priests on it. Hey, when I was a teenager they were big at my school (a lot of kids - well, boys - were into metal back then, as the 70s turned into the 80s) and that was the one they were all mad for.
I think my mate who played it to me thought I'd be interested because the first half - 'side 1' to use the terminology of the day - connected all the tracks into a dystopian science-fiction narrative. A concept half-album, if you will.

Which I guess does seem a bit prog. In theory I approve, but apart from an introductory synth noise at the start it was too metal for me (and you could get much better, longer synth noises elsewhere). Just an opinion, not knocking anyone else's.

Although actually I suppose I am knocking the opinion they were 'prog'.
It did occur to me earlier that dangermash might be more knowledgeable on the subject of Rush than the rest of us... So what say you, dm - are various Rush albums (dare Charlie say it) Prog Rock?


Anonymous said...

I don't know who Bob and Doug McKenzie are, Charlie, but Canadian popular culture doesn't get much more up front than John Byrne turning out to be a Rush fan.

Unless maybe Dave Sim put Neil Young in an issue of Cerebus I missed...


dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

I'm with you Sean.

I don't know what I'd classify Rush as but it wouldn't be prog rock. Prog's stuff like Yes and old Genesis albums and they just don't get me going. Maybe the difference is that Rush's music wasn't far enough up its own arses to count as prog rock.

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...
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dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...
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dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

And I just checked my William Shatner albums and can't find any Neil Young or Rush covers and was about to say that yes, John Byrne being into Rush is peak Canadian.

But then I remembered that on the Feedback EP, Rush did a cover of Mr Soul by Buffalo Springfield, which I reckon counts as a Neil Young cover. That's going to be pushing Byrne's 2112 hard for top spot.

Colin Jones said...

So Wham! are still at No.1 on the new UK singles chart but Mariah Carey and the Pogues/Kirsty McColl have both fallen a place to #3 and #5 respectively, gasp! Good news for Charlie as Andy Williams climbs to #14 while Slade climb to #33 (one place behind FELIZ NAVIDAD by Jose Feliciano at #32 - I find it very strange that Slade's festive British classic is less popular than a song sung partly in Spanish by somebody most Brits have never heard of). The glaring omissions from the Top 100 are MISTLETOE & WINE and SAVIOUR'S DAY by Cliff Richard but why? Could it be that Cliff was never fully exonerated in the public's mind of those child abuse allegations and he's regarded as a bit creepy nowadays?

Colin Jones said...

Charlie, I've just been watching TAKE OFF by Bob & Doug McKenzie - totally unknown here!

Charlie, you recently asked about double A-side singles - in 1984 LAST CHRISTMAS by Wham! was one side of a double A-side single with EVERYTHING SHE WANTS on the other side. But in America EVERYTHING SHE WANTS was released on its' own a few months later and reached No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100 (it was Wham's best song in my opinion).

To give you money
Work to give you money oh...

Anonymous said...

WOW! Charlie is fascinated RUSH was so well known in the UK. I guess because I keep thinking you guys were rock’s mecca and just didn’t imagine a Canadian band elbowing onto the charts, eh?

COLIN- you mention WHAM’s EVERYTHING SHE WANTS (which i do enjoy quite a lot) being a unique release in the USA.

Well, BEATLES 65 was released 59 years ago today but it was a US -only release too.

Beatles 65 absolutely destroyed the US Billboard charts selling a few million copies in a few weeks. It spawned several other 65 titles like Sinatra 65, Duke Ellington 65…

Anonymous said...

SEAN, DM - i never heard the term Prog Rock until tou guys brought it up a year (?) ago here!

DM -i am now scouring amazon for a banana holder! I take one daily to work. And i have had sooooo many squashed in my briefcase…. What a mess. Glad you mentioned this, eh!

Redartz said...

Another reason to love SDC- where else could you learn of the existence of a banana holder! That might make a nice companion to my sandwich holder. Now if only there was a chocolate chip cookie holder...

Charlie- it was stunning to learn that our old US Beatles lps were (for several years anyway) cut and dissected versions of the UK releases! I was so excited when the first Beatles cds were out, mirroring those Brit originals. Ah, to hear "Rubber Soul" in it's entirety.

Anonymous said...

Amen Red! I bought the remastered Revolver album a few years ago and was wondering why there were so many more songs!

Matthew McKinnon said...

It could be that those Cliff songs were shit and the people who bought them back in the day aren’t around any more, whereas the people who were young and hated them back then - ie me - never want to hear them again?

Matthew McKinnon said...

That Wham double A-side was rereleased with a different cover in the UK as well. IIRC it featured the boys looking out of a window in a country house or something.

Same record, put in a different sleeve. Stayed in the charts.

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

Here you go Red. I have something like this: Although I think Mrs Mash found them going cheap in some Poundland type shop somewhere.

Colin Jones said...

Poundland is a fantastic shop which sells all kinds of things I've never seen elsewhere such as a pack of clothes-pegs which are 100% plastic with no metal bits to go rusty. I bought those pegs about 20 years ago and I'm still using them but I've never seen them on sale anywhere else even though all-plastic clothes-pegs are a great idea. And a few weeks ago I bought a pack of 4 latte spoons which Tesco don't sell - they go nicely with the 2 COSTA latte mugs I've just bought (admittedly I bought the mugs in Tesco not Poundland).

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link, DM! Ah, what won't they think of next?

Colin Jones said...

Matthew, those Cliff songs weren't great (especially MISTLETOE & WINE) but it's still surprising that they don't feature in the Top 100 at all nowadays - you could argue that lots of Christmas songs are "shit" (as you delicately put it) but they've still made it into the current chart which is chock-a-block with Christmas songs!

Anonymous said...

Poundland vs. Dollar Store?


What was your best score at PL/DS?

Sounds like a great aubject for next SDC open mic!

We have Dollar Store, Dollar Tree, Dollar General… And though Ive found and bought superhero coloring books, never any actual comics. I thought it would be a subliminal way to get the kids interested in comics, lol.

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

My best Poundland find was a combo:

– an adaptor that I could plug into the car's lighter socket with two USB holes in it, one of which I could use to connect up the front and back dashcams

– a three inch long cable with a USB connector at one end that fitted into the adapter in the first bullet and a connector at the other that would plug into my phone so I could charge it while driving

I dare say I could have found both on Amazon but at ten times the price.

Oh, and I can never walk past Poundland without nipping in to grab a bag of Bombay mix, but that should go without saying.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Its a spiced savoury snack, mixing peanuts, chana flour noodles, lentils etc.
Although I suppose it should really be called Mumbai mix these days...


Anonymous said...

Charlie, you only heard of 'prog' here a year ago? I guess that must have been a different Charlie Horse 47 offering an opinion on prog rock over at Back in the Bronze Age a while back.
Careful, or you'll get a Frog Prog update...

Which reminds me, French composer - and arranger for Serge Gainsbourg - Alain Goraguer's soundtrack for 'La Planète Sauvage' came out this month in '73 (there's a rather nice 50th anniversary double lp reissue around at the moment if anyone's interested).

Besides Christmas songs it was clearly a bit of a month for soundtracks, as Meiko Kaji's music for 'Lady Snowblood' also came out, probably better known here from its later re-use by Quentin Tarantino in the first 'Kill Bill'.

And the Allmans released the theme from Top Gear as a single. Not my cup of tea, but you have to be impressed how ahead of their time they were, considering Top Gear didn't actually exist yet.


Anonymous said...

I also have one of those banana holders and so perhaps there is some weird connection to SDC. I thought it was to slow the ripening process, which in Brisbane is a problem (green one day off the next).


Anonymous said...

Sean - Likewise, supermarket fave Bombay potatoes could become 'Mumbai potatoes', but it doesn't alliterate, like 'Mumbai Mix', so might not catch on! You're showing some specialist knowledge, with chana flour! Chick pea flour, to the uninitiated!


Anonymous said...

The alliteration problem cuts both ways, I suppose. Pot Noodle created hot-curry flavour 'Bombay Bad Boy' - but, changed to 'Mumbai Bad Boy', a layer of alliteration's lost!


Anonymous said...

Apologies for the terminology, Phillip. Although really I should just have called them ganthiya, as some versions of Bombay mix have kind of small flattened strips rather than noodles.