Tuesday 30 January 2024

Speak Your Brain! Part 71. Which long-gone toy, book or comic torments you?

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

The Steve Does Comics Megaphone
Image by Tumisu
from Pixabay
If it's true that everyone loves a mystery, then all of us are in luck. That's because a mystery is just what we've got.

And that mystery is what on Earth are we all talking about?

That, I cannot say because it's time to be exposed, once more, to the feature in which I keep quiet and whomsoever reads this blog gets to decide today's topic for debate.

Or at least the first person to comment below does.

Therefore, don't be careless and don't be late. Get that question posted and let loose the dogs of jaw.

Sunday 28 January 2024

Where it all began! TV21 #98.

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

TV21 #98, Star Trek cover
I've never had even one moment's doubt where I first encountered the magical world of DC comics.

And that was in Adam West's Batman TV show.

How I thrilled, in the late 1960s, as, each week, the cowled crusader would face a larger-than-life foe and defeat him with the aid of the boy wonder and a level of irony so overwhelming it's a miracle I never managed to notice it.

But what about my first taste of Marvel Comics?

That was always a bit vague.

I knew that, in early 1972, I'd acquired a copy of the 1969 Amazing Spider-Man Annual from the Rag and Tag market in Sheffield and that it was the first Marvel mag I'd ever owned.

But there was more to the story than that.

Because I knew for a fact that I'd encountered a Marvel super-hero even earlier.

And that hero was the Silver Surfer.

But just where had I met him? And, if not in the pages of a Marvel comic, then how?

Silver Surfer #12, the Abomination
All I knew was that, long before the launch of Marvel UK, I'd read a British comic which featured the pewter powerhouse battling the Abomination in the streets of a city.

But where could I have read it?

In my mind, it had always been in the pages of TV21.

But that made no sense. After all, everyone knew one thing. That TV21 had been created for just one purpose, to spin yarns based on the stars of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's puppet shows and if there's one thing I've always known for sure, it's that Norrin Radd is no man's puppet. Surely, then, my memory must have been faulty.

But, no. Once I got the Internet and could do research that had formerly been beyond the realms of human capability, it quickly became clear there was indeed a time when that publication had lost its license to print Anderson-related material and had, therefore, switched to a far more random assortment of strips. 

This meant that, by August 1971, it was giving us such gems as The Tuffs of Terror Island, Forward From the Back Streets, Clancy Clott the Magician's Mate, Wheels Moran, Homer the Happy Ghost, Cap'n Stardust, The Menace of the Black Museum and Ringo Rides Again.

More than that, it was also sharing with us the adventures of Captain James T Kirk and friends in a strip dedicated to Star Trek.

But, more importantly than even that, it was proffering up reprints of the adventures of Galactus' former herald.

Gadzooks! I'd been right for all those years! My first-ever brush with Marvel Comics was indeed in a mag that had been launched to cash in on the popularity of Stingray.

But, in just which issue of that book had I encountered the Surfer and that battle?

Sadly, that wasn't an easy answer to discover.

But I persisted with the search.

And, at last, after nearly two decades of access to the internet, I can share the exciting news that I've tracked down the issue in question. And it was in TV21 #98 (August 7th, 1971) that Zenn-La's finest met the gamma-spawned gargoyle on the streets of London, got clobbered by him, recovered, had a winge about it, clobbered him back and then had a sorcerer return him to where he'd come from. All in the space of just two pages.

Such conciseness was not inherited from Marvel.

Instead, in a masterpiece of cut-and-pasted compression even Dez Skinn would have envied, the clash was condensed heavily by cramming as many panels into each page as possible and removing all superfluous images.

And so, behold, printed below, a comparison between one page of that tale as I first encountered it, and how American readers had experienced the conflict, just one a year previously.

TV21 #98, Silver Surfer vs the Abomination
Silver Surfer #12, the Abomination
But wait! There's more!

And a strange level of moreness it is indeed.

For, it turns out that not only does the comic feature the Silver Surfer.

It also features Spider-Man!

In this case, it focuses on a Peter Parker who's about to launch a fight with Dr Octopus that will bring the tragic demise of Captain George Stacy.

It seems odd that, although I've always remembered seeing the Surfer's yarn in this book, I've never had any recollection of Spidey's. I can only conclude the former character must have made more impact upon me than did the latter.

Regardless, here for comparison is that issue's first page of that Spider-Man tale - which was also granted just two pages per week. And, yet again, it's a masterclass in how to pack the maximum number of panels into a tight space.

TV21 #98, Spider-Man
Sadly, TV21 was to last for just seven more issues before merging with Valiant, and the Surfer and Spider-Man would have to wait for the launch of Marvel's very own official UK imprint, just over a year later, to once more have a British outlet that might show off their talents.

Thursday 25 January 2024

January 26th 1974 - 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
***

Do you know what's neat?

Tiger Feet!

How do I happen to know this?

Because Mud told me.

An introduction of such quality can only mean one thing. This was the week in 1974 when that band hit the summit of the UK singles chart with the melange of Retro and Glam which spawned the smash hit about possessing the paws of a stripey feline.

To this day, I still don't have a clue what the song's actually about but who am I to doubt the wisdom of the band that Showaddywaddy could only dream of becoming?

Over on the accompanying album chart, Perry Como was being far less cryptic as he sailed serenely to the top of the mountain with his LP And I Love You So. I must confess I've never heard that LP but, given his reputation, I'm going to assume it's a relaxing listen from start to finish.

Spider-Man Comics Weekly #50, Dr Octopus, Iron Man

Can it be true? Has Spider-Man become a criminal and joined forces with the most tentacular terror known to man?

Sort of, because he's lost his memory and the villain's convinced him they're partners in infamy.

Not only that. He's sent him off to steal some top-secret military blueprints.

However, even with his memory absent, our hero's starting to have doubts that he could ever be friends with such a reprobate.

Meanwhile, in his strip, Thor's as much use as a marshmallow hammer, as he stands around watching while Odin defeats the Absorbing Man by sending him and Loki flying off into space.

But the thunder god may soon be needed back on Midgard because, there, a witch doctor finds one of the Norn Stones that have been nothing but trouble lately, and promptly gains super-powers before renaming himself The Demon.

But hold on to your hats, armour lovers! A historic moment has been reached. The comic that's always only ever had two strips (unless you count Tales of Asgard) has suddenly gained a third!

That strip is Iron Man and we're about to discover just how the Avengers star came to be, when arms dealer Tony Stark gets some shrapnel in the heart and is taken prisoner by a Vietcong warlord who wants him to design weapons for him.

And, of course, there's yet another chance to design a hero or villain of our choosing in a contest that could see us nabbing one of those fancy colour TVs I oftimes hear speak of.

The Avengers #19, Captain America vs Power Man

Disbanded by the local council, Hawkeye, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch are out of work until they get jobs at a circus.

The Ringmaster's circus!

However, the hypnotic heel tells the police they've tried to steal from him, forcing the trio to go on the run. 

Meanwhile, Captain America's out to bring the Enchantress and Power Man to justice. 

This all leads to the defeat of the villains and the council reversing its previous decision. Thus letting the team reform.

Only for Cap to declare that he's quitting the band.

Elsewhere, judging by that cover blurb, it would seem Mordo is the hunter and Dr Strange is the hunted. Which can't be good news for either humanity or the master of the mystic arts.

The Mighty World of Marvel #69, Daredevil is back

But it's not just Spidey's book that's gained a strip. As that frontage makes clear, Daredevil returns to the imprint's flagship title, restoring what I suspect many will see as its classic lineup!

But will he live long enough to enjoy his resurrection?

After all, in the Hulk's strip, the Leader's just fired a nuclear missile at Russia in a bid to start World War 3.

Only the Hulk can stop it but, first, he must defeat the villain's indefatigable Super Humanoid.

Fortunately, a handy volcano offers a solution to that problem.

Next, we're re-treated to the origin of the man without fear but, this time, as told by Stan Lee and Gene Colan in the pages of Daredevil #53.

Finally, we get the arrival of a brand new super-villain when Sue and Johnny Storm's dad turns himself into the Invincible Man! A foe blessed with the powers of the Fantastic Four themselves!

Or does he?

Two of this issue's three yarns feature villains trapped in volcanoes. I can see no significance to this fact but feel I should mention it.

Tuesday 23 January 2024

Speak Your Brain! Part 70. Design your super-hero costume!

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

The Steve Does Comics Megaphone
Image by Tumisu
from Pixabay
As I type these words, many of us have been battered by storms with names like Isha and Jocelyn but is that what the blogosphere wishes to discuss?

That, I cannot say. As, for once, I have no say in the site's subject matter.

And that claim can only signal one thing.

That it's time to revive the feature in which you The Reader get to decide just what should and shouldn't be the day's topic for debate.

So broad is the spectrum of this site that that topic could be almost anything. From the grandiose to the trivial. The ludicrous to the sublime. Therefore, whatever it is you wish the Steve Does Comics True Believers to pontificate upon, post it in the comments section below and we shall discover just what the massed herd has to say about it.

Sunday 21 January 2024

January 1984 - Marvel UK monthlies, 40 years ago this month.

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

Many artists have suffered for their art but few have gone as far as setting their own hair on fire.

Michael Jackson did.

He did it in January 1984, by accident, while making an advert for Pepsi. Happily, the singer and the soft drink both survived the experience.

Another man making the news was Steve Jobs who, that month, launched his Macintosh personal computer in the United States.

Meanwhile, in the world of finance, the FTSE 100 Index was launched on the London Stock Exchange to let us know just how our investments were performing.

However well that might be, they probably weren't doing as well as the following set of songs because each of them topped the UK singles chart, that January.

The first to manage it was the Flying Pickets' Only You which was then replaced by Paul McCartney's Pipes of Peace. But, then, a veritable juggernaut was unleashed, as Frankie Goes to Hollywood's Relax stormed to the top of the listings, thanks to the BBC's banning of it. Which just goes to show that banning things doesn't work. 

Over on the accompanying LP chart, the month kicked off with Now That's What I Call Music bossing things before it was dethroned by Paul Young's No Parlez. However, Now fought back to reclaim the top spot before it was once more deposed. This time, by Michael Jackon's Thriller which then had to finish the month by being overtaken by the Eurythmics' Touch.

The Mighty World of Marvel #8, Captain Britain and Wolverine

For some reason, there's no issue of Starburst, this time round. Therefore, we only have three monthlies attempting to part us from our pocket money. I have, however, no doubt they'll be more than up to the task.

We're in Japan where Wolverine has a final showdown with Shingen. Not only that but Mariko and he are all set to marry which, of course, leads them to send a suitable invitation to the X-Men.

Back in the UK, Jim Jaspers' Beetles are digging around in the rubble of Braddock Manor when they unwittingly free the Fury. The daft fools.

Aggravated by Jim having turned the country into a living nightmare, the Vixen decides it's time to assassinate him but that plan soon goes belly-up.

Next, there's a two-page tale called Zip Rodgers, Hero of the Universe supplied to us by the talents of  Dave Howard and Paul Loney.

And we close with the finale of the Night-Raven tale the world knows as Quiet Town.

Doctor Who Magazine #84, Peter Cushing

At last, the greatest Doctor Who of them all - Peter Cushing - gets the acclaim that's always been his by right, as the magazine dedicated to time-travelling phone boxes takes a good long hard look at the two Amicus films of the 1960s!

But there's more. We also get news of a week-long Doctor Who festival in Newcastle, a new comic strip called The Moderator and a look back at the Tom Baker adventure The Ribos Operation which I think was the story which first introduced Romana to the show.

The Savage Sword of Conan #75, Marvel UK

All I know about this month's lead tale is it's a 43-page epic called Dominion of the Bat! and is conferred upon us by the ever-vigorous Michael Fleisher and John Buscema.

I note the thing on the cover seems to be a pterosaur, rather than a bat, and can only conclude the paleontologically-challenged Hyborians are guilty of a case of mistaken monster identity.

Thursday 18 January 2024

January 19th 1974 - 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
***

Would you like to teach the world to sing?

In perfect harmony?

And grow apple trees and honey bees?

And snow-white turtle doves?

So would I!


However, that honour was to be denied us, this week in 1974 because, while the New Seekers of Coca-Cola advert fame were at Number One on the UK singles chart, it wasn't with that song. Instead, it was with the track that they and everyone else knew as You Won't Find Another Fool Like Me.

Sadly, I can shed no light upon whether the recipient of that song ever did find another fool like them.

Over on the accompanying LP chart, Slade were similarly triumphant, climbing nine places to grab the Number One spot, with their latest platter that battered, the waxing we can only call Sladest.

Spider-Man Comics Weekly #49, Dr Octopus

It's time to blow up your balloons and hang out your bunting because a historic moment is upon us!

It's true! This was the first issue of SMCW I owned that possessed a glossy cover!

And what a cover it is, as Doc Ock doesn't manage to defeat just one Spider-Man, with his titanic tentacles. He's somehow defeating two of them at the same time!

Inside the book, our hero's out to find the cephalopodic crimelord, following the damage done to both Aunt May's health and her house. But, when he locates him, the wallcrawler might wish he hadn't because the villain uses a stolen super-weapon to make him lose his memory.

Thor and the Absorbing Man, meanwhile, are all set to resume the battle they've been waging for weeks. But, this time, in the halls of Asgard.

And it looks like it's going to make the morning papers, as reporter Harris Hobbs has blackmailed the thunder god into transporting him to the mystic realm in return for silence about his secret identity.

But is it even going to be Thor who defeats the copycat villain?

Or is it going to be Odin, who's currently engaging him in combat?

And can even the boss of the gods defeat a foe who can perfectly mimic his power and throw it right back at him?

But, hold on. We're not done with excitement yet. I do believe the inside back cover of each of this week's comics features a blank page upon which we may draw our design for a hero or heel of our creation. It's all part of an art competition, the first prize for which is a colour television.

For more information about that competition and the vital role I played in it, you can click this link here.

The Avengers #18, Power Man

The quarrelsome quartet find themselves fighting a foe who's too strong to stop, as the Enchantress uses the machine, with which Mr Zemo created Wonder Man, to turn one of Mr Zemo's minions into Power Man.

As if that weren't bad enough, the City Council's so unimpressed by the team's recent performance level that it orders them to disband!

But what's Dr Strange up to in this issue?

If he's any sense he's probably hiding from Power Man. However, he's probably not. He's probably too busy trying to stop some supernatural menace or other.

The Mighty World of Marvel #68, Hulk vs the Super-Humanoid

And just look at that. This is the first glossy-covered issue of MWOM I ever owned.

Sadly, its frontage can't be claimed to be as impressive as the Spider-Man one, what with it being noticeably less well-drawn, less well-conceived and displaying some truly egregious colouring decisions.

Fortunately, inside the book, things are far more impressive, as Stan Lee and Herb Trimpe give us a tale in which the Hulk's trapped inside a load of rubber while the Leader moves his Giant Humanoid into Thunderbolt Ross's missile base in a plucky bid to launch a nuclear holocaust.

Meanwhile, in their tale, the Fantastic Four tell the Avengers to butt out while they tackle the Mole Man who's up to his old game of kidnapping large chunks of cities.

However, Sue's injured in the chaos - and only one man can save her.

That man is her own father who's not only a world-class surgeon but, also, an escaped convict. Will he do the right thing and sacrifice his freedom to save her?

Tuesday 16 January 2024

2000 AD - December 1985.

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

Just what wonders did the cinemas of the world contain as the year of 1985 approached its icy death?

Among other treats, they contained Young Sherlock Holmes, The Jewel of the Nile, Clue, Legend, Brazil, The Color Purple, Out of Africa, A Chorus Line, Enemy Mine and Revolution.

Some of those films, I've seen.

And some of those films, I've not.

Of the ones I've experienced, I would say Jewel in the Nile was the one I enjoyed most, although I must confess The Color Purple may be slightly more culturally significant.

On the UK singles chart, December launched with Wham's I'm Your Man gripping the top spot. However, that was soon forced to recede by Whitney Houston's Saving All My Love for You which then had to make way for the festive feast of fun-filled frivolity that was Shakin' Stevens' Merry Christmas, Everyone. Truly, there was no stopping the Shakester in the 1980s.

When it came to LPs, December began with Now That's What I Call Music! 6 ruling the UK roost before that made way for the only record that was ever going to beat it.
And that record was Now - the Christmas Album, although, strangely, as Christmas hit us, Now That's What I Call Music! 6 reclaimed the top spot to depart the year, once more, supreme.

And is there news of the galaxy's greatest comic?

There is indeed.

It was still feeding us a diet of Strontium Dog, Sláine, Judge Dredd, Rogue Trooper
and The Mean Team

But there was some innovation. After all, that month, the comic gave us the power of
You Are Sláine - Tomb of Terror which seems to have been a Fighting Fantasy type game involving dice and life-or-death decision-making. Did Sláine tend to do a lot of decision-making? My main recollection of him is that, whenever there was trouble, he'd just Hulk-out and hack the trouble to pieces.

Strangely, despite DR and Quinch dominating the cover of December's final issue, all indications are that they don't actually appear inside it.

2000 AD Prog 447, Slaine

2000 AD Prog 448, Slaine

2000 AD Prog 449

2000 AD Prog 450, DR and Quinch

Sunday 14 January 2024

The Marvel Lucky Bag - January 1984.

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

January 1974 didn't see the release of many movies of distinction but it did, at least, see the unleashing of the film that can only be known as Xtro.

Granted, I say it's a movie of distinction but I must confess to never having seen it, nor ever having noticed it showing up in any TV listings.

However, I remember its soundtrack album frequently being advertised on the back of Starburst magazine. Therefore, I shall do the obvious and assume my ignorance of the film is not shared by the rest of humanity.

The Jack of Hearts #1

Marvel makes yet another attempt to make Jack of Hearts be a thing.

In this thrilling issue of this thrilling mini-series, Jack becomes despondent about his inability to control his destructive power. Then, former girlfriend Marcy Kane shows up, hinting at secrets.

What secrets?

Who can know? Before he gets the chance to find out, alien spaceships appear and distract him from the matter.

The Defenders #127

Assistant Editors Month has taken over this month's Defenders.

And that means this mag kicks off with a two-page story in which Ann Nocenti takes over the Marvel offices.

Regular readers will know she also turns up in this month's Incredible Hulk. There's clearly no stopping the woman.

That's followed by a full-length Defenders tale in which something happens but I'm not sure what.

judging by that cover, I assume that whatever it is isn't good news for the Angel.

The X-Men and the Micronauts #1

It's the team-up we've all been crying out for, as the X-Men and Micronauts unite to tackle a mutual threat.

If my memory serves me well, that threat is the evil alter-ego of Professor X - who's taken to wearing a Roman gladiator's outfit, for reasons I can't recall.

I'm pretty sure Baron Karza's involved in it all, as well.

Marvel Team-Up #137, Aunt May vs Galactus

It's the meeting that had to happen, as Aunt May confronts the power and might of Galactus.

Franklin Richards is also involved but I'm sure we don't care so much about him.

In a twist so shocking it could send a man insane, it would seem Aunt May becomes Galactus' new herald and she and Franklin go off in search of the universe's biggest Twinkie.

Seriously.

That's an actual story.

In an actual book.

Written by someone.

The Avengers Annual #12

The Avengers land their 12th-ever annual but I can shed little light upon their activities within.

Judging by the cover copy, though, I'm going to assume we're about to see a clash between our heroes and the mighty Inhumans.

Rom #50

Marvel's favourite space knight reaches his 50th issue - and does so with a double-sized comic; within which, Starshine gets new armour, the Skrulls arrive to battle the Dire Wraiths, and we get the revelation that the villains are, in fact, deviant members of the Skrull race.

X-Men Annual #7, the Impossible Man

The X-Men's 7th annual sees the merry mutants confront the cosmic horror of the Impossible Man. Is this the first time he's ever appeared outside the pages of The Fantastic Four?

Whether it is or it isn't, the infuriating alien steals the X-Mansion. In response, the chromosomal crimefighters chase him to SHIELD's Helicarrier, the Savage Land, the Avengers Mansion and then to the Marvel Comics building where he attempts to steal Stan Lee.

Thursday 11 January 2024

January 12th 1974 - 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
***

A new year may have been well and truly out of the starting blocks in 1974 but there was precious little sign of movement at the peak of the UK singles chart, with Slade's unstoppable anthem Merry Xmas Everybody still hogging the top spot.

And it was an identical scene atop the album chart, with Yes still ruling the roost, thanks to their latest bid to give Roger Dean work with Tales From Topographic Oceans.

My love for Slade goes without saying but there were other singles I approved of on that week's Top 50. And those songs were:

The Show Must Go OnLeo Sayer

I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every DayWizzard

My Coo-Ca-Choo Alvin Stardust

Dance with The DevilCozy Powell

LamplightDavid Essex

Roll Away the StoneMott the Hoople

AmoureuseKiki Dee

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road Elton John

Mind Games John Lennon

PhotographRingo Starr

How Come?Ronnie Lane & Slim Chance

and

Living for The City Stevie Wonder.

Should you wish to explore the matter in greater depth, that week's UK singles chart may be found here.

While the corresponding LP chart is located within.

The Mighty World of Marvel #67, Hulk vs the Leader

What sorcery is this? The Mighty World of Marvel has a glossy cover? Have the printers had a mare and mixed it up with the latest issue of The Avengers?

Verily, I say the nay. And, possibly, neigh, as well.

It can be announced that a whole new era of Marvel UK begins as, from now on, all its weekly books get the shiny-fronted treatment once reserved for the world's mightiest super-team.

And how excited was I when I first clapped eyes on this book?

Not in the slightest, as I must confess I never had this issue. Oh, the bitter horror that I should have missed out on such a momentous event.

Behind that cover, with the Hulk once more in custody, Thunderbolt Ross tries to find someone who can keep the jade juggernaut imprisoned.

And he finds him.

In the Leader.

Who's going to trap him in an unbreakable rubber prison.

Why do I get the feeling that trusting the Leader might not turn out to be the best decision Thunderbolt's ever made?

Then again, has he actually ever made a good decision? I'm struggling to think of one.

When it comes to the Fantastic Four, despite what it says on the cover, Dr Doom's nowhere in sight. Instead, the Mole Man's kidnapping large chunks of New York real estate - and only the FF can stop him.

Assuming they can prevent the Avengers from doing it first.

Spider-Man Comics Weekly #48, Dr Octopus

It seems all of Aunt May's financial worries are over when Otto Octavius decides to become her lodger.

However, he's only doing it to hide out from the police and it's a mere a matter of time before he's fighting Spidey, and May's having another of her turns.

Elsewhere, Thor and the Absorbing Man are still battling on the streets of New York.

But, fearing the villain might still contrive to lose, Loki transports him to Asgard where he gets into a scrap with everyone in sight.

Needless to say, the thunder god's all set to pursue him but there's a complication when reporter Harris Hobbs discovers his secret identity and demands to be given a tour of that fabled realm, in return for his silence.

The Avengers #17, the Swordsman
Can it be? Have the Mandarin and Swordsman teamed up to belittle and banjax our heroes?

It seems they have.

For, between them, they manage to convince the Avengers that Iron Man wants the sabre-swinging scoundrel to be the team's newest member. And, so, a new member he becomes.

Needless to say, it's not going to be long before hostilities break out again.

Tragically, I can shed no light upon just what Dr Strange is up to in this issue.

I've no doubt, though, that it'll be something positively preternatural.

Tuesday 9 January 2024

Forty years ago today - January 1984.

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

Let us delve, once more, into what the world's mightiest heroes have to offer us in that far-off land that wise men know as Yesteryear.

Daredevil #202

Hooray! It's Assistant Editors Month!

And that means we can look forward to a whole pile of stories that wouldn't have seen the light of day under any sane circumstances.

The first example we consume is a bizarre one in which Daredevil meets a character who's clearly Tarzan. But a Tarzan totally devoid of the traits that might make him admirable.

When one of his wives gets run over by a car, the jungle lord decides to take it out on everybody else, despite not being that bothered that she's been killed.

Meanwhile, in the issue's backup tale, a schoolboy's in-depth report on Daredevil is interrupted by a fight between that red-clad hero and someone called Turk.

Fantastic Four #262

Reed Richards is still on trial for saving the life of Galactus and, thus, dooming the Skrull homeworld.

However, the prosecution hasn't counted on the Watcher, Galactus and even Eternity showing up to provide evidence for the defence.

The strangest part of this story is that its writer and artist John Byrne appears in it when he's taken along to watch the trial in person.

The Incredible Hulk #291

It's another fourth-wall breaker, as Bruce Banner decides to visit the offices of Marvel writer/editor Anne Nocenti and bemoan his lot in life, while she tries to gee him up.

However, ashamed of himself for committing treason in his vendetta against the Hulk, Thunderbolt Ross decides the best way to make amends for it is by killing himself.

Then he decides it isn't.

Iron Man #178

In our first story of the issue, a gang of kids who role-play as the Avengers expel their Iron Man stand-in, on the grounds that the real Shellhead's left the real Avengers.

Needless to say, he's not best pleased about this turn of events.

And, needless to say, events soon show them what a mistake they've made.

Meanwhile, in our second tale, Tony Stark manages to go a whole day without booze, thanks to a bet from a cop who has it in for alcoholics.

The Spectacular Spider-Man #86

And things just get stranger, this month, as Spider-Man must deal with the return of the Fly - in a tale drawn by cartoonist Fred Hembeck, in the style of Fred Hembeck.

Meanwhile, will Spider-Man reveal his true identity to the Black Cat?

The Amazing Spider-Man #248, the kid who collects Spider-Man

In the first of this issue's stories, Spidey completes his fight with Thunderball whose power's been amplified by his acquisition of the Wrecker's magic crowbar.

And, in its second yarn, the wallcrawler visits a young fan, explains his powers, tells him his origin and even reveals his secret identity to him.

Has the man gone completely mad?

No. He's only done it because he knows his secrets are safe in the hands of someone who's about to drop dead from leukemia.

Thor #339

The Mighty Thor clearly has no time for all this Assistant Editors malarkey. His book gives us a perfectly normal tale in which Odin has dwarves create a hammer for Beta Ray Bill and then sends him back into space to rescue his people.

And Thor decides he wants to tag along too!

The Avengers #239, David Letterman

It's all meant to be fun and games, as the surplus-to-requirements Avengers agree to make a guest appearance on David Letterman's show.

Sadly for them, would-be super-villain Fabian Stankowicz decides to try and kill them all, live on air.

Meanwhile, back at the Avengers Mansion, the Vision's attitude is getting more unsettling by the day.

The Uncanny X-Men #177

In a tale drawn by Jazzy John Romita, Mystique practices fighting the X-Men, with the aid of Arcade's robots - and it's all part of her plan to free Rogue from the heroes' clutches!

However, it turns out she has a noticeable reluctance to harm Nightcrawler.

Just why could that be?

And how could it tie in with him not knowing who his mother is?

Captain America #289

In our main adventure, Cap returns to the present and tries to prevent the Brand Corporation's planned massacre of all super-heroes.

However, in our backup tale, Bernie Rosenthal has a dream about what it'd be like if she were Captain America and in the Avengers.

Conan the Barbarian #154

In this month's thrilling tale from before the dawn of history, someone called Raskos tries to form an alliance with some man-bats.

Happily, that plan doesn't get him anywhere, because Conan leads a bunch of bird-men to victory against those man-bats.

I'm hoping at least one of the Bird-Men sounds like Brian Blessed.