Tuesday 30 April 2024

Speak Your Brain! Part 77. Comics-related sense memories.

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

The Steve Does Comics Megaphone
Can it be true? Can yet another month have reached its death-defying climax and be teetering on the brink of falling off the cliff at whose base lies the shores of the month of May?

Yes it can.

Which means we're only eight months away from Christmas.

However, I suspect Christmas is not what's on our minds.

But just what is on our minds?

I don't know.

In all this universe, only one thing knows.

And that's the comments section below.

It's true. We've reached the return of the feature in which the first person to comment gets to set the topic for debate.

Many subjects have been covered in the three years since this feature was launched but many more remain uncovered. So, whatever your thoughts and queries, be sure to express them and we shall see just what chattenstance unfolds.

Sunday 28 April 2024

Hammer Horror, won't leave me alone.

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

Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell poster.
A wise man once said, "It's Hammer Time!"

An even wiser one said, "It's Clobbering Time!"

Right now, it's only one of those times.

And clobbering, it isn't.

When did the power and majesty of Hammer films first enter my life?

It would have been some time in the early 1970s.

After the 10 o'clock news, every Friday, Yorkshire Television had a slot called Appointment With Fear in which it would show a film guaranteed to freeze the spine of the hardest man.

Sometimes, that movie would be an Amicus production, or even a Tigon one. Whisper it quietly but even American International pictures were allowed to be shown.

But, for the most part, it would be a spawn of Hammer which was transmitted to send us to bed in a state of panic and hypertension, ready for the weekend.

Hammer wasn't always a company associated with horror, having debuted in 1935 with The Public Life of Henry the Ninth and being happy to churn out films about seemingly anything but, in 1955, it suddenly saw the light and gave us its adaptation of the BBC's classic TV serial The Quatermass Xperiment, starring an arguably miscast Brian Donlevy as a British rocket scientist who can't stop blundering into menaces from space.

That was followed, the following year, by X the Unknown, a Quatermass movie in every regard except there being no sign of Quatermass in it.

But it was in 1957 that the company entered the field of Gothic horror by unleashing the Peter Cushing and Christoper Lee led Curse of Frankenstein. Suddenly, a cinematic legend had found the direction that would lead to its route to immortality.

Throughout the late 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s, Hammer churned out horror films on a production line, giving us such thrills as Dracula Prince of Darkness, Frankenstein Must be Destroyed, The Reptile, The Gorgon, The Mummy, Curse of the Werewolf, The Two Faces of Dr Jekyll, Kiss of the Vampire and dozens of others. Nearly all of which seemed to feature Michael Ripper as whichever character was needed to warn the hero to not go anywhere near a big house.

Sadly, nothing sinister lasts forever, and, as British cinema's financial fortunes waned in the 1970s and picture houses began to close, so the company's output became sparser, with the last Hammer release being its 1979 remake of The Lady Vanishes which was most clearly not a horror film.

Nor was it a hit.

But its last horror outing was 1976's To the Devil a Daughter. That was an attempt to make a more contemporary style of thriller in the wake of Rosemary's Baby and The Omen but, without the familiar Hammer flourishes, it succeeded only in being boring.

The demise of Hammer as a movie production company saw a switch to television with the anthology shows Hammer House of Horror and Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense and there has, of course, been a modern revival of the brand, with films such as The Woman in Black and Let Me In being released with the Hammer label attached to them but nothing has quite evoked the distinctive aura the franchise wore so well in its heyday.

Therefore, because no one at all asked me for it, here's my own personal Top Ten of the Hammer films which bring me most pleasure.

10. The Abominable Snowman.
9. One Million Years BC.
8. Twins of Evil.
7. Vampire Circus.
6. Blood From the Mummy's Tomb.
5. Quatermass 2.
4. The Devil Rides Out.
3. Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde.
2. The Plague of the Zombies.
1. Quatermass and the Pit.

Startlingly, none of the On the Buses movies has made that list, horrifying though they may be. Nor has Up the Creek. Nor even Watch It, Sailor! I know. Do I have no sense at all?

Horror Express, The Creeping Flesh, The Blood on Satan's Claw, The Asphyx, The Ghoul, The Skull, Cry of the Banshee, The Blood Beast Terror and several others of that ilk were all disqualified for merely only masquerading as Hammer movies. 

There are, however, honourable mentions for such Hammer oddities as The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires in which Dracula meets the martial arts, The Witches in which Joan Fontaine manages to be terrorised by just about everyone she ever meets, Lust for a Vampire, These Are the Damned, Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter and, of course, The Lost Continent, a film which has the distinction of not featuring a continent of any sort, let alone a lost one. 

It does, however, have crab monsters, killer seaweed, a ship's hold packed with explosives, the Spanish Inquisition, the world's most irresponsible sea captain and a groovy theme song.

Good God above! What have I done? Why did I not put that at Number One?

Thursday 25 April 2024

April 27th 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

Shock, horror and, no doubt, anguish gripped the world of football on April 27th, 1974.

But what could have been the cause of such kerfuffle?

It was only the news that football giants Manchester United had been relegated from top flight football for the first time since the 1930s, thanks to a 1–0 home defeat at the hands of their deadly enemies Manchester City. And in one of those fits of  irony that only sport can provide, the goal that sent them down was scored by former United legend Denis Law.

Granted, not everyone was shocked, horrified or anguished. I suspect that fans of every other club took great pleasure in the news. Such is the nature of football enmity.

Fans who were definitely in good spirits were those of Leeds United because, mere days before that event, their club had clinched their second ever title, reminding us, once more, of the ups and downs of life.

Speaking of the ups and downs of life, I've a feeling I didn't have any of this week's Marvel weeklies. Just what caused them to be absent from the shops, I cannot even venture to suggest but, happily, by the following week, normal service had resumed.

The Avengers #32, Shang-Chi vs robot knights

I do have to say that's not the greatest cover I've ever witnessed. However, with any comic book, it's what's within that truly matters.

And, within it, Sir Denis Nayland Smith hires Black Jack Tarr to kill Shang-Chi in his house of deadly traps.

Can our hero defeat that house?

And can he convince Sir Denis that he was duped into killing Dr Petrie and has now turned his back on his evil father?

In their strip, I do believe the Avengers are trying to thwart the dreams of the Sons of the Serpent but I cannot say if we've yet reached the shock reveal of just who is the head honcho of those herpetological hatemongers.

Dr Strange, meanwhile, finds himself battling the unlikely menace of Mr Rasputin, malevolent descendant of the mad monk of the same name.

The original Rasputin may have been mad but this one clearly isn't. Realising he's no match for Strange when it comes to magic, the villain opts, instead, to shoot him.

And blow me down if it doesn't work where a thousand Dormammus may have failed - because it does, at least, land the sorcerer supreme in a hospital ward.

But what's this? Even when we finish this issue, the excitement isn't over?

That's because the back cover of this week's mag features the winners of the Marvel UK competition for those who fancy designing a brand new super-hero or villain. Thus it is that this issue brings us news of Newspaper Man, Mud Man, the Red King and his Army of Chess, Blitzkrieg the Man-Beast, and the awesome Twinkler, among many others.

Spider-Man Comics Weekly #63

Drama hits us in in its rawest form, as New Yorkers can only stand and watch while two Vultures slog it out in the skies of the Big Apple, for the right to be known as the real Vulture.

Then again, there's one New Yorker who doesn't have to just stand and watch. And that's Spider-Man who's quickly on the scene with his super-powers, looking to put a stop to their silliness.

Elsewhere, Iron Man's still battling to overcome the Crimson Dynamo and convince him what fun it'd be to defect to the West.

Next, as so often in recent weeks, we get a Lee/Ditko mini-masterpiece.

In this one, would-be alien invaders send a shape-shifting scout to Earth, telling him to disguise himself as a member of the world's dominant species.

But the useless fool adopts the form of a housefly and is promptly swatted.

To wrap up the issue, in a storyline that seems to have been going on for decades, Thor's still trying to rescue Hercules from the perils of Hades.

The Mighty World of Marvel #82, the Rhino and the wedding of Bruce and Betty.

Revived and boosted by the Leader, the rambunctious Rhino rudely ramrods his way into the wedding of Bruce Banner and Betty Ross, only to get a slap in the teeth from the Hulk

Is this the story in which the Leader becomes paralysed, thanks to his escape craft blowing up?

In Daredevil's strip, we get the conclusion of the tale in which the Ox and Dr Stragg have swapped bodies, giving the scientist by far the better part of that deal.

Having said that, I do believe the scientist ends up dead at the end of the tale, while the Ox is still alive.

We also get the conclusion to the Fantastic Four's first adventure in the Andromeda galaxy, in which they find the Skrull who killed Sue and Johnny's father. I'm fairly certain that killer dies at the tale's climax, although I'm struggling to recall just how.

However it happens, the quartet are now free to return home and get on with the everyday task of clobbering criminals of all shapes and sizes.

Tuesday 23 April 2024

Speak Your Brain! Part 76. Favourite sitcoms.

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

The Steve Does Comics Megaphone
Many people in this life have started at the bottom.

Me, for instance. I started at the bottom and have resolutely worked my way down from there. 

How apt, therefore, that this post is a perfect reflection of its author because it too starts from the bottom.

Or at least from what's at the bottom of it.

And that's a handy-dandy comments section. 

This is, of course, my convoluted way of heralding the return of the feature in which the first person to raise a topic gets to set the day's agenda.

That topic may be drawn from a multi-fold of fields but only you can decide just what it should be.

Therefore, don't hesitate to make your mark upon the internet and post your question, query, postulation, theorem, hypothesis or topic, below.

Sunday 21 April 2024

April 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

Hello? Is it me you're looking for?

No. It's Lionel Richie.

And I know that because this is April 1984 and sat resplendent at the top of the UK singles chart, as the month begins, is the singer of that very name with the song that starts with those very words, just as this post has begun with those very words. 

However, "Hello," soon became, "Goodbye," for the former Commodores frontman, with his crown being snatched from him, in the month's second half, by Duran Duran and their upbeat but lyrically baffling The Reflex

On the accompanying album chart, Richie also entered April at Number One. This time, with his LP Can't Slow Down.

However, just as he'd had to make way on the singles chart, so too did he find himself subsiding here, as the top slot was soon retrieved from him by Now That's What I Call Music 2.

The Mighty World of Marvel #11, Cloak and Dagger

As the cover makes clear, Marvel UK's flagship title is still being dominated by the cheery chappies that are Cloak and Dagger.

This month, they star in a tale called Dark is My Love, And Deadly but I struggle to recall just what happens in it.

I'm far more certain about the contents of Captain Britain's strip.

Excitement spills over because the moment we've all been waiting for has arrived. The one in which the unstoppable forces that are The Fury and Mad Jim Jaspers duke it out as only they can, with the fate of the universe in their malevolent hands.

On a much lower scale, Night Raven's reached the conclusion of his serial All the World's a Stage.

Pete Scott, meanwhile, takes a look at the history of violence in comics.

And we finish with a Marvel Showcase tale called Closer Encounter. I can impart no wisdom about the contents of this one but I do know it's brought to us by Steve Craddock and Dave Harwood.

The Savage Sword of Conan #78, Marvel UK

In this thrilling issue, Conan finds himself enmeshed in an adventure that mankind knows only as Colossus of Argos.

Wait. What? They had Argos stores back in those days? I can only hope Conan has the sense to bring his own pen with him, as the ones Argos provide are always too small for convenience.

All I know about this mighty epic is it features a couple of villains called Don K'tar and H'ar Da'an who both lay dead before the tale is over.

Frankly, with names like that, they're probably better off deceased.

Doctor Who Magazine #87, the Master

I must declare that that is, perhaps, not the most menacing photo of the Master ever printed.

However, inside, we find previews of upcoming serials The Caves of Androzani and The Twin Dilemma which, I'm sure we all recall, featured the end of the Peter Davison era and the launch of the Colin Baker one. It seems to be popular consensus that one of those serials is substantially better than the other.

Elsewhere, it's exciting news for all lovers of the visual arts because we're granted an interview with the man who painted the covers for so many Target novelisations, none other than Chris Achilleos!

Starburst #68

I detect a rare painted cover for the nation's leading sci-fi mag, which seems to relate to a brand new video game bearing the title Dragon's Lair.

The publication also investigates the gadgetry present in Never Say Never Again, casts an eye over how cinema's depicted the end of the world, scrutinises the making of the film Dreamscape and offers a retrospective of the giant ant classic Them!

Thursday 18 April 2024

April 20th 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

When it comes to music, TV and current affairs, nothing too thrilling happened in the world, this week in 1974. Therefore, let us fling ourselves into our look at what Marvel UK was offering up during that spell.

The Avengers #31, Shang-Chi vs Midnight

As the cover makes clear, everyone's favourite martial artist is still battling for survival against the menace of Midnight.

Granted, he's not his own father's most popular martial artist. If he was, Midnight wouldn't have been sent to kill him in the first place.

It all climaxes with a dramatic battle on a building site and a perfect demonstration of why you should never leap off cranes while wearing a cape.

This is, of course, the reason I refuse to wear one, even though everyone wants me to.

Elsewhere in New York, the Avengers also have their hands full when the Sons of the Serpent try to blow up visiting Chinese official General Chen and his visiting car.

Clearly, the world's mightiest super-team can't let such an affront to diplomatic relations stand.

And that all leads to Captain America being captured by the viperous villains!

Also up against it is Dr Strange who must fight Baron Mordo's allies while blindfolded, gagged and unable to waggle his fingers around, meaning he must rely entirely on his habitually feeble astral self to do all his fighting for him.

Spider-Man Comics Weekly #62, the Vulture is back

Spider-Man may have thought he had his work cut out, a few weeks ago, when he had to combat the New Vulture but, now, he's really got problems, as the original feathered fiend is on the loose and out to prove he can do anything his replacement could.

In Iron Man's strip, the leader of the Communist World sends the newly created Crimson Dynamo to the United States to destroy Tony Stark's latest project - and destroy Iron Man while he's at it.

Fortunately, Iron Man has two things on his side; superior armour and the smooth-tongued ability to convince his foe to defect to a land that can offer more baseball games and brands of cola than you can shake a stick at. 

Thor, meanwhile, finds himself in Hades and helping his love rival Hercules battle Pluto's never-ending minions.

And we finish with a Lee/Ditko shorty, as we encounter a woman who's accused of witchcraft and put on trial.

Ultimately, she's exonerated and released, a free woman but, in a shocking twist that could turn a reader's mind inside out, upside down and back to front, we discover her fiancé is the real witch!

The Mighty World of Marvel #81

Sal Buscema appears from nowhere to provide the finished artwork for this week's Hulk tale, as the Leader, still butt hurt from previous defeats by the brute, decides to revive the Rhino, boost his powers and send him to gatecrash Bruce Banner's wedding to Betty Ross who, thanks to the intrusion, narrowly misses out on the honour of becoming known as Betty Banner.

Speaking of brutes, the Ox is convinced by his cellmate Karl Stragg that if the two of them bust out of jail together, Stragg will make him smarter.

However, the sinister scientist is out to pull a fast one and intends to swap bodies with the bovine bully boy, giving himself the body of a thug and the mind of a scientist!

Can Daredevil put paid to such plans?

Elsewhere, the Fantastic Four are not at all happy about the death of Sue and Johnny's father and decide it's time to go to the Skrull's home galaxy to bring the knuckle sandwich of justice to the individual who killed him.

Tuesday 16 April 2024

2000 AD - March 1986.

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

How desperate are you to see really small things?

If you're inescapably desperate to do it, the 3rd of March in 1986 was the happiest day of your life.

You guessed it. It was the day which saw the publication of the first paper that described the atomic force microscope!

I know. I was excited too!

Things were, possibly, not quite so thrilling in your local cinema but the month did see the release of such offerings as Highlander, The Care Bears Movie II and Police Academy 3.

On the UK singles chart, March began with the Bee Gees penned Diana Ross toe-tapper Chain Reaction at Number One. However, even the supreme Miss Ross cannot stand in the way of a determined Cliff. And so it was that the month ended with Cliff Richard and the Young Ones ruling supreme, thanks to their revival of Living Doll

The British album chart, meanwhile, entered March with Dire Straits' Brothers in Arms in top spot before that was forced to make way for Hits 4 by the 1980s' hottest act Various Artists.

But what of the galaxy's greatest comic?

As so often before, it was giving us a diet of The Ballad of Halo Jones, Sláine, Ace Trucking Co, Strontium Dog and Tharg's Future-Shocks. Meanwhile, Judge Dredd found himself encountering The Last Voyage of the Flying Dutchman.

2000 AD #459, Judge Dredd

2000 AD #460

2000 AD #461

2000 AD #462

2000 AD #463, Judge Dredd

Sunday 14 April 2024

The Marvel Lucky Bag - April 1984.

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

The past is once more beckoning us to join it.

And who are we to spurn a good beckoning?

Alien Legion #1

A brand new comic arrives in our lives and I could impress you by telling you exactly what happens in it.

But that would be far too easy.

Or it would be if I had the slightest idea what happens in it.

However, from the title, I'm going to assume it's like some sort of mashup of Star Trek and The Legion of Super-Heroes.

Whatever it is, it's brought to us by the team of Alan Zelenetz and Frank Cirocco and it's a whopping 38 pages long with an additional seven pages devoted to character studies of our newborn cast.

What If? #44, Captain America

What question is the Watcher demanding answers to, this month?

It seems he's demanding to know what would have happened had our favourite patriot not been revived until the 1980s.

It would seem that, among other problems he'd face, he'd be confronted with the nightmare that the 1950s Cap would have been revived before him.

And my instincts tell me that can only cause chaos and conflict.

Generic Comic Book #1

I genuinely can't even guess what this comic is about.

However, I do know it's written by Steve Skeates and this fact is making me suspect it may be of a humorous bent.

Phoenix #1

It would seem we're getting a reprint of the events of the Dark Phoenix Saga but with the original planned ending - and info from the creators as to why it wasn't used.

Marvel Fumetti Book #1

I'm sensing the presence of yet another humour comic.

And I think it might involve the fun-packed setting of the Marvel bullpen under the reign of jovial Jim Shooter.

I can shed little light upon the merits of the tales but there are a lot of them.

For instance, we get stories with titles like Spidey's Edi-Tour, Breakfast in the Bullpen!, Who's the Boss?, The Wet T-Shirt Contest, The Fastest Writer in the World, The Spider-Man Plot Session, Secrets Behind the Comics III and myriad other yarns and features to amuse and bemuse us.

Power Man and Iron Fist #104

Things aren't looking good for our heroes, if we can trust a cover I initially thought reminiscent of the one from Defenders #53 but which, upon closer scrutiny, turns out to bear little resemblance to it.

And it's another story I don't know much about - but I do know it's called The Armageddon Game and features a villain called Doombringer.

I least, I assume he's a villain. It'd be a bit strange for a hero to be called Doombringer.

Thursday 11 April 2024

April 13th 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

This week in 1974 saw no signs of change at the top of the UK singles and album charts, with Terry Jacks' Seasons in the Sun and the Carpenters' The Singles 1969-1973 retaining their holds on their respective Number One spots.

As a lover of the languidly maudlin, I approve of Seasons in the Sun but other tracks which got my blessing on that week's Hit Parade were:

Everyday - Slade

Emma - Hot Chocolate

Candle in the Wind - Elton John

The Air That I Breathe - the Hollies

Jet - Paul McCartney and Wings

Ma-Ma-Belle - Electric Light Orchestra

Jealous Mind - Alvin Stardust


Devil Gate Drive - Suzi Quatro.

Should one wish to explore the matter further, that chart can be found by clicking here.

While the associated album ranking may be discovered here.

But, apart from listening to that week's chart countdowns on Radio One, there was another treat in store for the dedicated lover of music because, on the evening of the 13th, BBC One broadcast the documentary On Tour With the Osmonds which I'm sure we all tuned in to, even though I've no memory of it whatsoever.

The Avengers #30, Shang-Chi

It's bad news for Shang-Chi. No sooner has he found a nice spot to live in Central Park than his urban paradise is invaded by that hat-wearing fiend Midnight, his childhood friend and ninja who's been sent to murder him, by Fu Manchu.

Will our hero be forced to kill one he once saw as a brother?

And will any explanation ever be given for why he's wearing a hat?

In another part of New York, the Avengers are about to have their first run-in with the Sons of the Serpent, after Hank Pym's friend and associate Bill Foster gets attacked by the rattlesnake related racists.

And, finally, Dr Strange, back on Earth, following his victory over Dormammu, discovers a bomb in his flat.

He soon gets rid of it but finishes the issue blindfolded with his hands bound to prevent them making the mystic gestures they need if he's to perform his spells. Never has the master of the mystic arts been more helpless.

But the magic doesn't end there. Lovers of fine art will be intrigued to know that Rafael López Espí's legendary posters of our favourite Marvel heroes feature on the back of this and other Marvel UK mags, this week, meaning we can get them all for just 90 pence.

For my ancient post  about those posters, feel free to click here.

Spider-Man Comics Weekly #61, the Kingpin

I do believe the Kingpin's brainwashing scheme comes crashing to ground, this issue, with Spidey rescuing Gwen and her father from a vat filled with molten death, while Norman Osborn, of all people, performs helpful heroics on the side.

And Jack Frost is still causing problems for Iron Man.

Exactly what those problems are, I struggle to recall but, given that he has a Russian name, and it's an early Iron Man story, I assume it involves launching espionage attacks on Tony Stark's factory.

Over in Hollywood, Hercules has fallen into Pluto's trap and agreed to take his place in Hades.

And, now, only Thor can save him.

But that's not quite a wrap because we finish the issue with a treat, as we get the three-page feature in which Stan Lee and Steve Ditko reveal, at last, how they create an issue of Spider-Man.

It's the one which involves Spidey riding around the statue of Liberty, sat astride a missile. And, despite its comedic nature, it was, for a long time, the only information I had about how comics are produced.

The Mighty World of Marvel #80, the Leader and the Murder Module

It's another Hulktastic classic, as, now possessing the intellect of Bruce Banner, the Hulk must prevent the Leader from stealing the ungainly but unstoppable tripod that is the Murder Module. Will the Hulk's newfound lack of savagery prove to be his downfall?

Elsewhere, Daredevil finally brings his conflict with the Organization to a conclusion by revealing the Organizer is none other than Abner Jonas, just as everyone always thought he was.

It would appear the presence of the Fantastic Four in the early parts of this week's Hulk story means there's no FF tale in this issue.

Tuesday 9 April 2024

Forty years ago today - April 1984.

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

I do believe this month is a huge one in the history of Marvel Comics and its biggest heroes.

But how will that event impact upon the lives of those heroes in their everyday books?

Iron Man #181, the Mandarin

Rhodey's still in China and having to tackle the Mandarin without bursting out laughing at his terrible costume.

Granted, it'll be fairly easy to avoid laughing, as the villain's using his mind-control ring to force the hero to slit his own throat.

Also, the Manchurian mischief maker's out to start a nuclear war between his homeland and the United States.

As if that wasn't more than enough drama for any super-doer to have to handle, a huge, alien structure's appeared in a park in New York...

The Amazing Spider-Man #251, Hobgoblin

It's one of those fights that never seems to end, as Spidey confronts the Hobgoblin in the villain's lair and they end up taking it onto the streets outside.

It all climaxes with Hobby driving his van into the river and disappearing, seemingly dead.

But why do I get the feeling he's not as deceased as he seems to be?

In other news, Peter Parker's shocked to discover J Jonah Jameson's quit his editorial role at The Daily Bugle, following his public confession that he was to blame for the creation of the Scorpion.

Also, a huge, alien structure's appeared in a park in New York...

Conan the Barbarian #157

From what I remember, some king or other has offered a huge wodge of cash to any warrior who can rescue his young wife from an evil sorcerer who lives atop a mountain.

Needless to say, Crom's barbarian of choice accepts that challenge.

But it's not an easy one to complete.

And it turns out that things are not necessarily as they've been portrayed.

Why do I feel like we've had a story very like this before?

Daredevil #205, the Gael

A brand new villain makes his debut when Irish hitman the Gael shows up in The Big Apple, planting shamrocks on his victims' bodies.

It all happens when Debbie Harris's niece arrives from Ireland and Daredevil has to protect her from the attentions of the IRA.

The Avengers #242

It's a bit of a downtime issue, as the gang return home to find that, in their absence, Hawkeye's married Mockingbird.

Meanwhile, the Vision once more has the power to move and the Wasp is trying to work out what to do with so many Avengers.

But it's not all rest and recuperation because the team then discover a huge, alien structure's appeared in a park in New York...

Captain America #292

Issue #292 throws us an odd story in which a man called the Black Crow battles our hero, seeking retribution for the United States' transgressions against Native Americans.

With his seemingly limitless set of super-powers, this foe's clearly too much for Cap to handle but, for reasons I can't recall, they part company as bezzie mates.

Also, a huge, alien structure's appeared in a park in New York...

The Incredible Hulk #294

With his days as a public menace behind him, Bruce Banner sets out to find a cure for cancer.

When his methods have spectacular results, a former mob overlord sends the Boomerang to capture Banner, so the scientist can cure that overlord's cancer.

Bruce is reluctant to do so, thanks to the untested nature of his technique - but he has no choice but to comply because Boomie's holding his girlfriend hostage in a secret location.

Also, a huge, alien structure's appeared in a park in New York...

The Spectacular Spider-Man #89, the Black Cat

The Black Cat decides the reason she's proving such a liability to her boyfriend is that she lacks any super-powers.

Therefore, she strikes a deal with the Kingpin. He'll use his resources to give her unspecified special abilities in return for her doing him an unspecified favour at some unspecified point in the unspecified future.

I'm sure Spidey's going to be delighted about that and it's all going to end well.

Also, a huge, alien structure's appeared in a park in New York...

The Uncanny X-Men #180

Forget the Dark Phoenix Saga. This is what we really want.

It's a thriller and a half as we're treated to a whole issue of Kitty complaining about Storm having a Mohawk, and Storm telling her to belt up about it.

Also, a huge, alien structure's appeared in a park in New York...

Fantastic Four #265

We get two tales in this one.

In the first, the Trapster's in sensational solo action, as he  attempts to take over the Baxter Building and gets beaten up by the team's receptionist.

In the second, it's one big headache for Sue when Reed, Johnny and Ben disappear into a huge, alien structure that's appeared in a park in New York.

Curiously, they triumphantly re-emerge from it but, during their short absence, Ben's quit the group and been replaced by the She-Hulk!

Thor #342

Everyone's favourite thunder god finds himself in a viking village in the Arctic Circle where an ancient Norseman tries to goad him into killing him, so he can enter Valhalla when he dies.

Will Thor be willing to accommodate him?