Thursday 7 December 2023

December 8th 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

This week in 1973 held bad news for you if you were a fan of driving fast, because the speed limit on UK motorways was suddenly slashed from 70 miles per hour to a mere 50. This was done in an attempt to deal with problems caused by the fuel crisis.

Clearly, not so bothered about wasting fuel was NASA because it was merrily flying Pioneer 10 around the universe, possibly at a much faster pace than 50 miles per hour. And so it was that, this very week, the craft sent back the first-ever close-up photos of Jupiter.

Bringing everyone back down to Earth, it was also the week in which the United States' House of Representatives voted to confirm Gerald Ford as Vice President of the United States. Not that they were in any kind of hurry but he was sworn in on the very same day.

While that was happening, on the UK singles chart, the Number One song was still I Love You Love Me Love by Gary Glitter.

And the accompanying album chart found its top slot occupied by Roxy Music's Stranded.

Obviously, subsequent events have robbed me of all ability to approve of that Number One single. However, the tracks I did approve of on that week's chart were:

My Coo-Ca-Choo - Alvin Stardust

Lamplight - David Essex

Roll Away the Stone - Mott the Hoople

Photograph - Ringo Starr

Amoureuse  - Kiki Dee

I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day - Wizzard

Mind Games - John Lennon

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road - Elton John

Showdown - Electric Light Orchestra


Dance with The Devil - Cozy Powell.

Should you wish to peruse the matter further, that week’s UK singles chart can be found here.

While the associated album chart resides right here.

The Mighty World of Marvel #63, Hulk vs Umbu

Judging by that cover, I can only conclude this one contains the Earth-rattling conclusion to the Hulk's clash with Umbu the tuning fork-wielding giant robot from space. It's the tale in which our anti-hero saves the whole planet from a severe case of climate change; which only goes to prove that, despite his lack of social graces, the Hulk is as green as anyone.

Unfortunately, in the process, Bruce Banner gets zapped by a bucketload of radiation, collapses, face-down, on the floor and is immediately declared dead, by Ka-Zar who gives us a perfect demonstration of why he's not allowed to practise medicine.

As if that's not thrilling enough for any discerning reader, we also get the climax of Diablo's debut clash with the first family of Marvel, as the Thing finally comes to his senses and helps the Fantastic Four defeat the antagonistic alchemist before putting him back in the very hole from which he emerged.

Spider-Man Comics Weekly #43, Kraven and the Vulture

It's a case of double trouble because Kraven the Hunter's so miffed that the new, unimproved Vulture's defeated his nemesis Spider-Man that he feels he now has no choice but to fell the feathery fiend, in order to prove who's top dog.

Of course, it turns out that neither of them is, as Spidey interrupts their fight and leaves them both in a pile on the floor. I do recall, especially that the wallcrawler decks Kraven with the sudden use of his, "Sunday Punch."

It's clearly a week for conclusions because we're also supplied with the end of the Thor story in which he must stop the Destroyer.

Fortunately, despite having a broken hammer, he proves more than up to the task and everyone will, no doubt, live happily ever after.

The Avengers #12, Masters of Evil

Wouldn't you know it, the Avengers are, yet again, forced into battle with the Masters of Evil, while Cap tracks Mr Zemo down to the jungle hideout in which he's holding Rick Jones.

According to the Grand Comics Database, the villain tries to bring an avalanche down on Cap but only succeeds in killing himself. Thus is the death of Bucky Barnes finally avenged.

Or is it? After all, is this the original Zemo? Or is this his son or nephew or whoever it was the fake Zemo was?

And it's a big day in the life of Dr Strange when he gets to have a scrap with Loki, who, being a god, proves to have noticeably more magic than the supernatural surgeon can comfortably handle.


Anonymous said...

Man oh man… gazing upon Avengers 15 i can only wonder if evil version of Black Knight (or the nice version) ever met X-Men’s Angel? Anyone? That would surely be a senses-shattering encounter!


Anonymous said...

Steve, I believe the Baron Zemo in that Masters of Evil story was Heinrich Zemo, the Original (or “Real”, if you prefer) Zemo. His son Helmut Zemo was introduced in CAPTAIN AMERICA 168 (seen here at SDC just last Sunday!) as “The Phoenix”, later became the current Baron Zemo, was briefly in The Thunderbolts as Pretend Good Guy “Citizen V”, went back to being just plain Zemo again, eventually became a Genuine Good Guy at some point, etc etc .

Aren’t you glad you asked? ;)


Anonymous said...

b.t, Zemo isn't a Baron yet. He didn't have a title til later.
At least Steve knows that! Good to see you're up on the detail, Steve. But possibly it should be Herr Zemo rather than Mr...?

Btw, re: Gerald Ford Vice. I did not know that was the fella's full name! But he didn't become the first (and only) unelected President of the United States til late summer of '74.

-sean SDCRFO

Steve W. said...

Sean, I'm proud to announce that I've now rearranged the words in that sentence so that they more closely resemble English.

Bt, thanks for the Zemo clarification.

Charlie, did the Angel trade blows with the Black Knight at the wedding of Reed and Sue?

Colin Jones said...

The singles chart from 1973 includes YOU WON'T FIND ANOTHER FOOL LIKE ME by the New Seekers at No.3 which did eventually reach No.1 but not until mid-January 1974.

Colin Jones said...

Steve, you can still like a Gary Glitter SONG despite Gary Glitter. I still listen to ANOTHER ROCK 'N' ROLL CHRISTMAS at this time of year and I still think it's one of the better festive offerings.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Good Lord! I can't believe that "SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH" enters the album charts at #4 during the Holy-day season!

COLIN- Yes! Believe it or not, ROCKING AROUND THE CHRISTMAS TREE did take the #1 spot on the Billboard 100. Only the 3rd Xmas song in US history to do that. BRENDA LEE recorded it at the age of 13 in 1958 and she is now 78! I guess KATE BUSH has some company in the "Who'd a thunk it?" category?!

Don't ask me about record charts... I don't quite get it b/c if I go down some rabbit holes I can find other Xmas songs that hit #1 on various charts but not the Billboard 100 specifically.

Glad to see MACCA is charting again with "WONDERFUL XMAS TIME."

Now we just need "A VERY MERRY XMAS" from John and Yoko.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Glad to see Mike's Amazing World of Comics is still running!

Funny to see that Marvel is running 6 reprint titles monthly / bimonthly at this time: Marvel Double Feature, Marvel Greatest, Marvel Super Heroes, Marvel Spectacular, Marvel Triple Action, and Marvel Tales.

And of course DC is still putting out 100-page Giants, Boy Commandos, etc.

And not to mention all the monster / sci-fi comics that are reprinting 1950s material.

What was the strategy? Flood the market tust to take up spinner space and deny the competitor a venue? Or was that a few years earlier?

My only XMAS wish this year is that I wish they would do that again, right now! I'd gladly plunk down $3-4 and buy monthly reprints of all the big titles again!

Colin Jones said...

Charlie, I assume you mean HAPPY XMAS, WAR IS OVER by John & Yoko? A fine festive classic indeed!

Anonymous said...

Charlie, I once came across an interesting theory on the early 70s Marvel reprint books - the US ones - suggesting they were a response to Jack Kirby's departure to work for the competition. Apparently while he was at DC there were actually more Marvel comics coming out with his work in them!

Fwiw, I think Marvel have always had a strategy of flooding the market to crowd out the competition, going back to Martin Goodman (except when they haven't been in a position to do it, eg from the late Atlas-'68 era, when they were constrained by their distribution deal).

Putting a positive spin on it, I guess with the stories all taking place in the same 'universe' and the continuity becoming more complicated over time it made sense for both both main publishers to put out some reprints?

-sean SDCRFO

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

Zemo's been given a lot of stick over the years for being dumb enough to keep firing his gun after being blinded by the sun on Cap's shield and causing the avalanche of tocks that ends up killing him.

Might I suggest that there were extenuating circumstances here?

Seconds before being blinded, Zemo is transported away by Kang somewhere around Avengers #100-120 to join Wonder Man, the original Human Torch, Midnight, Frankenstein and the Flying Dutchman's Ghost in the Legion Of The Unliving, in hunting down The Avengers in some underground caves. The Avengers end up defeating the Legion and freeing Immortus who then sends all the Legion back to their own timelines.

So after being dragged away for a day or so into some other business, Zero is thrown straight back into battle with Cap and the first thing that happens is that he's blinded by Cap's shield. With no time to get his bearings, it's hardly surprising that he fires indiscriminately.

Colin Jones said...

LAST CHRISTMAS by Wham! has made it to No.1 on the new UK singles chart with Mariah Carey at #2, Pogues & Kirsty McColl at #4, Brenda Lee at #6, Andy Williams at #15, John & Yoko at #19, Sir Macca at #29 and Slade at #39. The Wham! song is the least Christmassy of the lot (Christmas is never mentioned apart from the title!) and yet it gets to #1, bah humbug! The Top 100 is now chock-a-block with festive tunes and it's easier to mention the ones that AREN'T there such as MISTLETOE & WINE and SAVIOUR'S DAY by Sir Cliff of Richard and Greg Lake's I BELIEVE IN FATHER CHRISTMAS which is a masterpiece, as is RING OUT SOLSTICE BELLS by Jethro Tull, also absent from the chart - bah humbug again!

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

Charlie - I can confirm that there are four panels of Angel vs Black Knight action in FF Annual #3 before Angel is zapped by the Mandarin. Hats off to Steve for the pointer.

Colin Jones said...

I know the modern singles chart is mostly compiled via streaming but where does the OCC (Official Chart Company) actually get the information from? Is it the number of listens on Spotify in a week? I haven't got Spotify but I do listen to songs on YouTube which doesn't count I suppose!

Colin Jones said...

Here at Steve Does Comics we recently let a big music anniversary pass us by - on November 28th it was the 40th anniversary of the release of NOW THAT'S WHAT I CALL MUSIC Volume One which was basically the greatest hits of 1983 (I know because I bought it).

Steve W. said...

Colin, all I know is the methodology for compiling the chart, these days, is a Byzantine and arcane one, involving multiple sources of information and algorithmic contrivances. Also, that sales and streams of older tracks are deliberately downgraded to prevent them dominating the charts. I have a feeling that I read somewhere that the Killers' Mr Brightside would still be in the upper reaches of the singles chart if not for that, rather than having occupied the lower reaches of the Top 100 for almost 400 weeks.

Dangermash, I'm genuinely impressed with myself for having remembered that Angel/Black Knght clash.

Anonymous said...

DANGER and STEVE!!! Thank you for the information on the angel, black Knight, clash! When I saw the cover above, something started rolling around in the back of my mind… I just couldn’t remember where. thank you again!

Anonymous said...

Also, I have a recollection of the Iron Man fighting the black Knight? It had to be the early days of Marvel because I remember it from watching the old Marvel cartoons from 1966 or so, where the cartoon was basically just panels from the comic book.

Geeze… thinking about those old marvel cartoons and what they do now with CGI… God knows what the future will look like in 40 or 50 years for ‘toons?

Anonymous said...

You are darn straight about indeed to celebrate “Now that’s what I call music!”

I still remember to this day visiting my brother in London when he was going to law school around 1987 and we walked into a record store and I bought, I think, the fourth or fifth of that series?

it really exposed me to a whole lot more music than what I was hearing in Germany or back in the United States.

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

Yes. First time I saw Black Knight was battling against Iron Man when Iron Man Stories were being reprinted in Spider–Man Comics Weekly. It might even have been the fight where the first Black Knight fell to his death?

Anonymous said...

Later on, Iron Man fought Dread Knight - perhaps (in some way) inspired by Iron Man's earlier clash with the Black Knight (?) Both had flying horses!


Anonymous said...

I first encountered the Black Knight’s clash with Iron Man in MARVEL SUPER-HEROES 28, reprinting “My Life For Yours!” from TALES OF ASUSPENSE 73. Two fun facts about that story : it was Gene Colan’s first Iron Man art and it was Roy Thomas’ first ever superhero script for Marvel.