Sunday 25 February 2024

February 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
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February 1984 was a disastrous time for those who like to do things by halves, because it was the month in which Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson announced that after, an unlucky for some, 13 years, the UK halfpenny was to be scrapped. Personally, it's a trauma so huge that I've never got over it.

It was, however, a great time for those who liked gold.

Or indeed silver or, even, bronze, as it was the month in which the Winter Olympics kicked off in Sarajevo. Mere days after that opening ceremony, Britain found triumph, thanks to ice dancers Torvill and Dean.

In the then Soviet Union, triumph was also visiting Konstantin Chernenko who succeeded the newly deceased Yuri Andropov as General Secretary of that land's Communist Party.

Upon the UK singles chart, it will surprise few familiar with 1980s music to discover Frankie Goes to Hollywood's irresistible juggernaut Relax greeted the new month at Number One.

But even that couldn't stay on top forever and, so, by February's end, it had been supplanted by the Teutonic tunefulness of Nena and her 99 Red Balloons.

Meanwhile, on the accompanying album chart, February launched with the Eurythmics' Touch hogging pole position before being replaced by Simple Minds' Sparkle in the Rain which then had to make way for the Thompson Twins' Into the Gap

The Mighty World of Marvel #9, Cloak and Dagger

Cloak and Dagger's strip makes its Mighty World of Marvel debut when the contrasting couple ask someone called Father Delgado for sanctuary in his church.

Someone else who might appreciate sanctuary are Captain Britain and his allies. Luna, Betsy and friends are done over by the Beetles while the good captain visits Jim Jaspers' lair - only to find the villain has become all but unstoppable.

In his strip, Night Raven must tackle The Haunting of Don Salvatore Vischetti.

And in Daredevil's strip... ...well, there is no Daredevil strip. Despite the comic being called Mighty World of Marvel Featuring the Daredevils, poor old Hornhead isn't able to get into a comic that's 50% named in his honour.

Doctor Who Magazine #85, Peter Davison and Janet Fielding

The mag that's bigger on the inside than the outside gives us a preview of the undersea drama the world will come to know as Warriors of the Deep in which the Silurians team up with the Sea Devils in a bid to destroy humanity.

But that's not all because this issue also gives us a preview of The Awakening and Frontios.

As well as that, there's a review of 20th anniversary episode The Five Doctors, a comic strip called Skywatch-7 and an interview with Leela actor Louise Jameson.

The Savage Sword of Conan #76, marvel UK

I can tell you little of what transpires within this one but I do know it centres around a 40-page tale called Lady of the Silver Snows which is brought to us by the not-so-barbaric team of Chris Claremont and Val Mayerik.

Starburst #66, Strange Invaders

The nation's favourite sci-fi mag proves its foresight by previewing the upcoming alien invasion television mini-series V.

Also, Irving Kershner discusses his directorial work on The Empire Strikes Back and Never Say Never Again, we're given an interview with special effects wizard Douglas Trumbull, and columnist Barry Forshaw presents a thinkpiece about video censorship.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

Curious if Thompson Twins actually had the most top-40 hits of all the New Wave bands? Is it possible?

CH-47

Anonymous said...

I must be braindead… leobDuran Duran had the most new wave hits?

Charlie

Matthew McKinnon said...

With Wolverine finished up in MWOM, it began to lose its shine for me. Cloak & Dagger was one of those minis that’s a young and hungry comics fan I’d try hard to be interested in but boy it was dull. Twelve-year-old me liked Dagger in her white leotard outfit etc, but it was really pedestrian stuff otherwise.

A measly 8 pages or so of CB, treading water ever so slightly (sorry Sean, that’s still my take) before the big showdown.

And Jamie Delano writing Night Raven, I think?

Hmm.

I’m tempted to dig out some of these back-issues and take in the full 80s-ness of them in the ‘flesh’: I’ve been reading reprints for decades and haven’t unboxed or touched the originals.

That Dr Who looks familiar again, but again I cannot think of any reason why I’d have bought it. Did it have some decent artist on the strips?

I had that Starburst, and I’m still fond of Brainstorm. We’re still sort of feeling our way towards the goals Douglas Trumbull had in mind for film projection. IMAX has the clarity but not the magical high frame rate, and 60fps digital looks too video-ey. Not there yet!

Redartz said...

Oh, that was a fine time musically! I really liked that Nena hit; both versions: I had the 45rpm of the English, and a 12 inch single of the German language version. Being at the time a young, politically fascinated art student- socially referential pop music was right up my lane.

And the Thompson Twins: that album "Into the Gap" was fabulous; one of the decade's best imho.

Steve, you referenced the progression of Soviet premiers in your commentary. That triggered yet another musical memory: did any of you fine folk in the UK have any familiarity with Dr. Demento? He was (is) a dj with a huge record collection and an obsession with odd, humorous and esoteric music. He hosted a radio show weekly in the 70's and 80's: appropriately named "The Dr. Demento Show". I tried to never miss it, and growing up with those quirky songs doubtlessly influenced my permanently bent mind.
Anyway, there was a song they played about the passing of those numerous USSR heads : "The ABC's of Dead Russian Leaders". The song listed Andropov, Brezhnev and Chernenko, so must have been released once Gorbachev took power and ended the string. Anyone else remember this?

Anonymous said...

Well, Matthew, I would say the same thing about that Captain Brexit episode as I did last time - it wasn't as immediately striking as earlier parts, again probably because of the need to move the plot forward in a relatively small number of pages (especially setting up Captain UK for the resolution with the Fury) but it was still ok.
The final splash page was particularly effective. "Lost in the funhouse..."

Yes, Night Raven was written by Jamie Delano. I felt a bit sorry for him back in the day, as - going from that to Captain Brexit to Hellblazer - he always seemed to be taking over from Alan Moore, which has to be tricky for a writer.

That issue of MWOM also has an article by Moore about a then recent Glasgow Comic Convention. Much as I usually enjoy Affable Al's sense of humour, I have to say he does overdo the jokes about going north of the border, and venturing into Glasgow. I mean, a bit of banter about not being able to understand what people are saying is fine, but at a certain point going on about stuff like that does come across as a bit ignorant. Especially if you're someone's guest. And from a hole like Northampton (that was a joke, so it's ok).

The Dr Who Magazine comic strip Skywatch-7 was actually a reprint of a two part back-up about Zygons from a few years earlier. Which I guess sort of ties-in with Silurians and Sea Devils?
It was drawn Mick Austin, who even early on I would say counts as a decent artist.

-sean

Anonymous said...

Back then the Soviets went through leaders almost as quickly as the UK over the last few years. I suspect 49 days in office - without involving a death - is a record for a developed state that the British will hold onto for some time to come...

Redartz, am I correct in understanding Nena's record was/is known as 99 Luftballoons in the US, like everywhere else in the world except Britain? It does sound better in German.
My main recollection of Nena is that her appearance on Top of the Pops in Britain caused a scandal because you could see she had underarm hair. OMG, underarm hair! On a lady! More controversial than the Frankie Goes to Hollywood video...

Btw, I am unfamiliar with Dr Dimento.

Steve, you forgot to mention that the best single of the year came out this month, The Nine Lives of Dr Mabuse by Propaganda.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hLSAXwCCFY

-sean

Redartz said...

Sean- I've seen "99 Luftballoons" titled both thusly and as "99 Red Balloons", depending upon which version is being played, what disc you are holding, and apparently whatever the individual felt like calling it. I no longer have the original vinyl copies, but if memory serves, the two discs were titled according to their language.
And yes, there was some controversy about Nena's ...appearance. Never bothered me; and really liked the video. Oh, and like you, I prefer the German.

Anonymous said...

I’m thinking German version of “99 *** Balloons” must have gotten more airplay here —in my head it’s never the English version I hear. Anyhow, the German version is excellent. Usually I find the German language to be kind harsh on the ear but Nena’s phrasing makes it sound perfectly lovely. That bit at the end when her tempo slows way down , it’s so pretty it almost makes me cry.

b.t.

Anonymous said...

Redartz, my best friend and I used to listen to the Dr. Demento show every Sunday night for about a year but I don’t remember the ‘Soviet ABC’s’ thing. Maybe I’d stopped listening by then. In my day, the Doctor’s big “hits” were things like “The Clean Song”, “Star Drek” and the immortal “Bounce Your Boobies”. He was always playing classic Tom Lehrer songs too.

b.t.

Redartz said...

Talking about "99" has gotten me thinking about other multilingual hits of the era. One that comes to mind is "Der Kommisar", English version by After the Fire. I used to have both that and the original German from Falco; wish I'd kept that- it was cooler.

Then there was "Major Tom" from Peter Schilling. His single had the English on one side and the German on the other. I believe. Don't have that now either. Interesting that all these were German/Anglo; must have been a thing...

Redartz said...

b.t.- Yep, you name some of the Good Doctor's most popular cuts. You familiar with "Star Trekkin"- another great Trek parody song they played?
And Tom Lehrer was brilliant; still break up hearing "Masochism Tango". Then there were the hilarious gems from Stan Freberg...
The two 2-cd collections of the Dr.' greatest in my collection are particular favorites.

Anonymous said...

German is a good language for urgency, war, commands given the hard sounding consonants.

Luft balloons version simply sounds more urgent… imho.

English is 40-50% french and french really is hard to hear for commands, when there is a lot of noise , due to all the vowels.

Just my opinion having lived in Germany 4 years and a French wife for 30.

Just listen to the english and german commands being given in the movie “To Sink the Bismark.” E.g., Fire! vs. Fuer!

Anonymous said...

Regarding hairy german armpits… when i first moved there in 85, i dated a red-haired beauty for a while.

Sitting on a park bench on a warm September day, she had on a sleeveless blouse and skirt with white nylons. Red hair was bountiful under the arms… poking out of the white nylons…. I did notice initially but kept looking into her soft blue eyes. Bewitching! Ephemeral!

Charles

Anonymous said...

A few of the early Beatles hits were released in German, probably because having lived there, they had a feel for the language (but probably not fluent). Similarly Bowie released Heroes in German (and French) again around the time he lived in Berlin. I guess if the record company thought they'd sell more copies...

Wiki suggests the lyrics for 99 red balloons were written by Kevin McAlea, an Irish colleague of Kate Bush, rather than the band. Apparently they weren't too happy with the English version, which did well in the UK, South Africa, Canada and (oddly) Ireland. The US, New Zealand and Australia preferred the original German version. I remember the single reaching no.1 after what seemed like an age for Relax.

For an episode treading water, Captain Britain featured the death of Tom Lennox, the capture of Alison and Betsy and a real sense of desperation. When Vixen is transformed into an actual Fox and thinks 'she would dearly like to scream if she could remember how' and then the final splash page revealing the scale of Jasper's mutation, we have A grade Moore/Davis storytelling. I remain a big fan.

DW

Anonymous said...

A pendant writes:
Are you sure you didn't mean 'ethereal' at the end there, Charlie? (Sorry, sometimes I can't help myself ;)

Yeah, I noticed underarm hair seemed to be more common among German women back in the 80s, at least in Hamburg and (west) Berlin anyway. Possibly it might have been some feminist thing, as they did seem ahead of the curve on that over there. Good for them.

Not sure about German necessarily sounding more strident in music. Obviously it can - even just an accent - but it depends on the voice and what the singer is trying to do. You certainly couldn't accuse Kraftwerk of sounding like they were issuing orders.
In their case I didn't especially prefer the German over the English versions (although I doubt Autobahn would have worked in the latter)... But I think with Nena she had quite a standard generic start of the 80s soft rock sound so a different language added a bit of interest that wasn't there (for me) otherwise.

-sean

Anonymous said...

*A pendant writes...
#@&*ing autocorrect

-sean

Anonymous said...

Aaarggh it did it again

*Pedant

Anonymous said...

Redartz:
‘The Masochism Tango’!!!! Yes! That’s the song I was trying to think of. The music and lyrics are brilliant but it’s Lehrer’s gleefully unhinged performance that makes it hilarious.

‘Star Trekkin’? Sounds vaguely familiar, but I don’t know now. Which is the one where Snotty says to Captain Jerk, ‘I tried shovin’ a weiner in the warp drive but it dinnae do a bit’a good….’

Sean :
There are worse things that autocorrect could have changed ‘pedant’ to….

b.t.

Anonymous said...

Redartz:
‘The Masochism Tango’!!!! Yes! That’s the song I was trying to think of. The music and lyrics are brilliant but it’s Lehrer’s gleefully unhinged performance that makes it hilarious.

‘Star Trekkin’? Sounds vaguely familiar, but I don’t know now. Which is the one where Snotty says to Captain Jerk, ‘I tried shovin’ a weiner in the warp drive but it dinnae do a bit’a good….’

Sean :
There are worse things that autocorrect could have changed ‘pedant’ to….

b.t.

Anonymous said...

It’s funnier the second time around, nein?

b.t.

Redartz said...

b.t.- "Star Trekkin" was by a group called The Firm (and no, not THAT Firm). Its a fun, singsong bit of play with the characters:
"Theeeeres, Klingons on the starboard bow, starboard bow, starboard bow: Klingons on the starboard bow, scrape em off Jim!"

Anonymous said...

Red

That song made it to no. 1 in the UK. Had its own dance, and everything...

DW

Matthew McKinnon said...

Sean -

I recently read ‘Comic Book Punks’ and by Delano’s own admission he only got his early gigs - all of them! - because Moore liked him and pressed him on his editors when he was departing something.

All of them. Nightraven. CB. Hellblazer.
That’s quite a debt.

Noticing your Mabuse shoutout - indeed the best single of a year packed with great singles. But I don’t even hear it until a whole year later: I got into ZTT through Frankie, then Art of Noise later in 84. It’s an indication of how isolated I was that I just blind bought it (had to order it in) in Jan 85.

Possibly I picked up that Dr Who on the strength of Mick Austin then as I would have been crazy about anyone who’d drawn for Warrior at this point.

All -
My first memory of 99 Red Balloons is hearing the German version my best friend’s brother had brought back from Germany after a school exchange trip there. Before the English version was released. I liked it. Killer riff.

B Smith said...

Just regarding Tom Lehrer - I'm sure you all know that back in November 2022 he announced that he was placing all his songs in the public domain...if you want a copy, help yourself.

https://tomlehrersongs.com/

An amusing discussion of "99 Luftballoons" (or indeed any British #1) can be found here...

https://popular-number1s.com/2009/07/29/nena-99-red-balloons/

Anonymous said...

Geeze… Charlie thiught for sure you meant Space Truckin by Deep Purple not Star Trekin….

BT - Stimmt! Es war mehr lustig die Zweitemal! (Or is it den Zweitenmal? Just going by reflex, lol.)

SEAN - Thanks! I’m not even going to try to blame it on spell check. Once I hit 61 my vocab started to get wobbly here and there.

Anonymous said...

RED - Dr Demento was de riguer Sunday nights at the Purdue dorms! Not sure which station though… could it have been WXRT all the way from Chicago??? But his big hit, imo, was playing Fish Heads which caught on and is still part of our lexicon of crazy tunes!

Or, could it have been an Indianapolis station?

I doubt Lafayette since they were probably gearing up for Monday’s reports on hog belly and corn bushel prices?

Anonymous said...

I associate 99 Red Balloons with a school trip to Germany. But it was probably after that.

Freiheit - another German group. "Keeping the Dream alive", etc.

An interesting nugget, for Charlie:

According to Breakfast TV, "Something's wrong", in 'Yesterday', by the Beatles, was Paul poking fun at his mother, for putting on a posh voice to disguise her Irish accent - then bitterly regretting this, and wishing he could go back in time, and undo it.

I'm paraphrasing John Kay, who was also paraphrasing - so, the original account would be better.

For ephemeral/ethereal - see Count Nefaria vs the Vision (Jim Shooter's Avengers.)

Phillip

Colin Jones said...

Steve, the halfpenny lasted a lot longer than 13 years - I've got a halfpenny dated 1967 which has a ship on one side and the original youthful version of the Queen's head on the other but that was the old-style pre-decimal halfpenny.

Two more '80s hits in a foreign language: ROCK ME AMADEUS by Falco and JOE LE TAXI by Vanessa Paradis.

I bought the album TOUCH by the Eurythmics mainly for the song RIGHT BY YOUR SIDE which I heard in Tesco only a few months ago - I was definitely bopping in the aisles to that one!

As DW mentioned, STAR TREKKIN' by The Firm spent two weeks at #1 in the UK in June 1987. I loved the song at the time and I still do.

We come in peace
Shoot to kill
Shoot to kill
Shoot to kill
We come in peace
Shoot to kill
Shoot to kill, men

Anonymous said...

Matthew - yeah, Delano knew Moore but being recommended to take over that many times still seems like something of a mixed blessing. I think on CB he was mainly providing the dialogue for Alan Davis' stories...?

It wasn't that unusual to have missed Propaganda early in '84 - ZTT were a new label and somewhat overstretched with Frankie in '84 so Dr Mabuse didn't get the promotional push they probably planned for. It's why their next single didn't come out for a year, and the album did mid '85 (and Trevor Horn left the production to someone else).

Btw, Dr Mabuse is getting a 40th anniversary reissue in a couple of months on Record Store Day, as a 12" with a couple of the harder to find promo mixes and related odds and ends. 'Vol 1' apparently (I don't know if that means more of their stuff or other ZTT acts to follow).

I don't know why I even mentioned that, as I don't think anyone else round here is that interested in vinyl. Unless it features Sir Paul McCartney.
Maybe its worth mentioning George Harrison's 'Wonderwall' soundtrack is getting an RSD reissue too?
www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNz87c2fmFI

Thats probably the best Beatles related album. Not counting Yoko's, obviously.

-sean

Anonymous said...

*and the album tíl mid '85
Nothing to do with autocorrect, that was just my poor editing. Duh.

-sean

Steve W. said...

Sean, don't you worry. There'll be people here who're interested in vinyl. Remember, the majority of people who visit the site don't comment and their interests are likely to be manifold.

B, thanks for the Tom Lehrer and 99 Luftballoons links.

Red, I can't speak for others but I've only become familiar with the existence of Dr Demento since I got the internet.

Charlie, Matthew, bt, DW, Phillip and Colin, thanks for your comments too.

Anonymous said...

Ok Steve, although I wouldn't say I was exactly worried about it (;

-sean

Colin Jones said...

It's getting ridiculous how the Conan monthly keeps re-using old covers - this month's cover first appeared on SSOC (UK) #10 dated August 1978 (the Conan story in #10 was an adaptation of REH's Shadows In Zamboula). What possible reason could there have been for re-using old covers??

Matthew McKinnon said...

Thanks for the RSD tip, but a bit of scouting around reveals I’ve got all the tracks on that one (I hoovered up all the Salvo/ZTT deluxe re-releases from 20 years ago).

And sadly not a vinyl fan: I grew up with vinyl and was sick of my records getting knackered so embraced CDs and digital (not mp3s though) and never looked back.

Anonymous said...

b.t.-

I remember listening to Dr. Demento with my brother!
The funniest song I remember was about a guy who was bummed out because his girlfriend had fallen in love with Jesus, and he just couldn't compete.

...oh, and that song "Friendly Neighborhood Narco Agent."
Godammit, that show was hilarious.

M.P.