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.


Anonymous said...

Steve, I heartily second your approvals for ‘Emma’, ‘Jet’, ‘Ma-Ma-Belle’ and The Hollies’ sublime ‘The Air That I Breathe’. I don’t recall ever hearing ‘Emma’ on the radio back in the Long Ago — I only discovered it many years later on one of Rhino Records’ SOUL HITS OF THE 70s compilations, so for once, nostalgia plays no part in my enjoyment of that particular track.

‘Languidly maudlin’ is a perfectly apt description of Terry Jacks’ ‘Seasons in the Sun’.


Anonymous said...

Last time we saw the Master Of Kung Fu on the cover of the UK AVENGERS mag, someone mentioned they had learned how to draw feet by studying Jim Starlin’s rendering of those notoriously hard-to-draw body parts. Good thing they didn’t use Ron Wilson’s drawing of Shang-Chi’s foot on the AVENGERS 30 cover as a learning tool. I can’t even tell if that’s supposed to be his left or his right…

Alas, Steve, I don’t think there is any reason given for Midnight’s chapeau in the story. I do remember being quite impressed by Starlin’s rendering of Midnight’s body as a pure silouhette (without rim-light, sheens or any other kind of highlights on his form). I don’t think I’d ever seen that effect in a comic before — it’s very effective, as if the fabric of his costume actually absorbs light or something.

Previously, I commented that the first Shang-Chi adventure was one of the best Origin Story / First Issues of the era, along with the very first Deathlok and Iron Fist stories. Unfortunately, all three of those series also struggled a bit to live up to the excitement and anticipation generated by their initial outings and all three fell into repetitive creative ruts almost instantly. Judo Jim Starlin especially seemed to lose interest in the MOKF strip fairly early on. Each subsequent story (in the four-color series as well as the b/w DEADLY HANDS OF KUNG FU mag) looked a bit more rushed and less polished than the previous — I think he only did full pencils on the origin, delegating the bulk of the finished art to Al Milgrom on the follow-up installments. He was apparently devoting most of his creative energies on writing and drawing CAPTAIN MARVEL at that specific period of time.


Anonymous said...

MWOM featured a Hulk story inspired by Kirby's rejected Marvelmania poster. Marvel should have used that for the cover...or Trimpe's copy, which were both much better than the cover used! Otherwise the story is a bit of a sad one, with Thomas showing what Bruce Banner's life could have been....but we all knew it wouldn't last. Otherwise was this not the stage where Marvel started being very heavy handed with its grey much so it was impossible to see the art?
Spirit of 64

Anonymous said...

Looking at some of these old comics has reminded me that Don Heck was a Spider-man artist, over Romita's layouts, something that many forget. Unfortunately Heck - Esposito was never a great combination.....
Spirit of 64

Anonymous said...

Spirit of 64 :

My first Romita Spider-Man was a reprint in MARVEL TALES pencilled by Heck and inked by Esposito over Romita breakdowns. It wasn’t actually ‘bad’ or anything, but I was disappointed — it looked a little flat and lifeless. THIS was the great John Romita I’d heard fans raving about? The next issue had Jim Mooney inking Romita’s full pencils and I was like, ‘OHHhhh, NOW I get it….’


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Charlie does not want to harsh anyone's musical buzz but...

Emma, Seasons in the Sun, and The Air that I Breathe are rather too melancholy to be enjoyable anymore.

BT - we certainly all knew Emma in Chicago. IIRC once the parents understood the lyrics they started carping about it. And I do remember my younger brother (11 yo) saying, "Charlie did you know this girl kills herself in the song." Man... buzz kill.

Looking at the US charts 50 years ago, the top hits are the same as the Guardians of the Galaxy party tape. Just plain, ole fun!

And further, we see sneaking up the US charts Stevie Wonder's "Cheverai! Don't you worry about a thing!" Man that is a fun, fun song!

Melancholy be gone! Fie on Melancholy! Fie!

Charlie Horse 47 said...

And "THe Lord's Prayer" by Sister Janet Mead has started tumbling down hill. Alas... It wasn't no "JC Superstar."

Colin Jones said...

On Saturday night at 8pm BBC Radio 4 has a documentary called 7 Inches Of Joy (oooh, Matron!) which celebrates the 75th anniversary of the 7" single.

Anonymous said...

Culture update: OJ is dead.

Redartz said...

Charlie, I gotta agree with you- the Billboard chart this week in 1974 was aces! What a list.

TSOP by MFSB- man, that song rocked! Loved it then, love it now.
Hooked on a Feeling by Blue Swede- will live forever for the "oooga chagga"s.

Jet by Wings- Paul was rockin.

Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield- just incredible. Led me to buy the album.

I could go on and on. Or....maybe I'll go put that 1974 Time/Life cd in the stereo...

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Charlie felt a brief and appropriate flush of nostalgia seeing the Trimpe Hulk cover above. (I was at work, so it had to be brief.)

And, while sitting in another interminable meeting, he started musing about how certain heroes would forever be associated with certain artist and image e.g., Colan - DD, Trimpe - Hulk...

But then Charlie started thinking about his DC encounters and the only artist that left an impression was Kubert and Sgt Rock / Hawkman.

It's kind of unusual to find an artist leaving a memorable impression on two genres like that? (It is 50 - 60 years later.)

But why didn't Kubert come to Marvel? Surely they could've used him? Though as I type this, not sure where... Help?

Charlie Horse 47 said...

RED - Charlie likes your musical style!

Hmmm... will your Sunday morning "Sunday's CD" Facebook post feature 1974? :)

If so... please do your fan club a favor and show the song titles!

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Shout out to 3 Dog Night's "Must Let the Show Go On!"

Those guys were a #1 hit machine for a good several years, as was Credence Clearwater Revival.

Charlies read a few articles that say, if you manipulate the years (like from 1969 - 73) versus the usual measures, those two groups had the most #1 singles outside the Beatles in 1964-65.

Indeed, to the extent Charlie recalls 55 years ago, he was indeed beginning to hum a lot of 3 Dog Night (along with his li'l brother). Our first was "Mama told me not to Come!"

Anonymous said...

Charlie and Redartz: there’s just too many wonderful songs and artists on those April ‘74 Billboard charts for me to list my “favorites” — from The Spinners to Joni Mitchell to Bachman Turner Overdrive to Maria Muldaur etc etc etc.

As I’ve said before, I’m tempted to be like those ubiquitous YouTube Commentators who proclaim “Back then music was GOOD, unlike the crap people listen to today!” But realistically I know that if YouTube had been around in 1974, people from our parent’s generation would be raving about the music they loved as teenagers and trashing the music of Stevie Wonder and Wings and The Stylistics and Three Dog Night etc.

Not that it makes me love the radio hits of my youth any less, y’understand…


Anonymous said...

I hadn’t realized quite how much Three Dog Night had permeated the airwaves in my teenage years when I saw a CD of their Greatest Hits at Tower Records, said to myself “Oh yeah, I liked some of their songs” and impulse-bought it. Listening to the CD my car on the drive home, I was awash in Golden Nostalgic Sonic Joy, one groovy hit after another. When the guitar intro of ” Shamballa” came on, I nearly burst into tears! Not even kidding.


Anonymous said...

BT - im with you bro! I bought the CD on impulse basically to hear “Mama Told Me not to Come” since it’d been decades.

And son of a gun if it wasn’t one hit after another!

And, yes, i had the moist eyes too. Especially when I heard “Out in the Country” and “Easy to be Hard.”

And the lyrics in “Never Been to Spain:” “Well I never been to England, but I kind of like the Beatles…” :)

Anonymous said...

Behold...the maddening menace of the Murder Module!!!
A classic. One of the greatest super-villain inventions of all time.
I wish I had that t-shirt back when I could still wear a t-shirt without looking like a middle-aged guy wearing a t-shirt.


Anonymous said...

Well, I am completely out of step with you and the rest of my homies here, Steve, because aside from maybe Hot Chocolate a bit, I don't care for any of those tracks you blessed. And looking at the charts you linked to, the rest of the hits were even worse this week!

I mean, look at the singles - Ringo Starr singing about having the hots for a sixteen year old girl, which I suppose wasn't too bad considering Gary Glitter is in the top three (I hope Little Jimmy Osmond at #15 had a good minder!) Eurovision loser Olivia Newton-John, the Carpenters, not one but two records by the #$@*ing Wombles, and worst of all, Genesis were starting to have hits.
Oh the humanity.

The album chart isn't much better, but I do quite like new entry 'Starless and Bible Black' by cheerful beat combo King Crimson -

Possibly not the snappiest lyrics ever written there, but nice mellotron.


Anonymous said...

Charlie found the 3 Dog Night stat that shocked (!) him: 21 consecutive Top-40 hits! Assuming it is accurate that is one hell of a 5-6 year run.

Anonymous said...

Looking at that Avengers cover, my theory on Midnight's hat is that whoever the artist was, they probably drew that figure with an all black mask set against a black cowl, and then realised it looked like there was no head...

b.t., Re: Starlin losing interest in MOKF - iirc, according to the Sean Howe book Judo Jim didn't much care for some of the editorial input during character development. And then not long after starting work he actually read one of the Sax Rohmer Fu Manchu books, was appalled by it, and quit. Good for him.