Thursday 6 June 2024

June 8th 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 the nation ever recover from the shock?

June 8th, 1974, saw the broadcast of the final part of the Doctor Who serial Planet of the Spiders.

How we gasped as giant, talking spiders were put in their place and green screen went mad.

But what mattered most was that it was the final episode to star Jon Pertwee as the Timelord. Now we'd have to get used to a brand new actor in the part. One called Tom Baker. 

Change may have been afoot in our favourite sci-fi show but there was none in evidence on the UK singles chart. That was still topped by the beret wearing kings of Glam that were the Rubettes. And that was all thanks to their track Sugar Baby Love.

But there was change on the corresponding album chart, with David Bowie crashing straight in at Number One with his latest waxing that wasn't waning, the LP the world could only refer to as Diamond Dogs.

Sugar Baby Love is, of course, a proven classic but the other tracks I approved of on that week's Hit Parade were:

This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both of Us - Sparks

There's a Ghost in My House - R. Dean Taylor

Judy Teen - Cockney Rebel

Waterloo - ABBA

Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me - Elton John

W.O.L.D. - Harry Chapin

America - David Essex


Seasons in the Sun - Terry Jacks

Should you desire to study the topic in greater depth, that week's UK singles chart may be found here

While the accompanying album rankings reside within.

The Mighty World of Marvel #88

It's battle beneath the Earth, as the Hulk finds himself dragged into the latest war between the Mole Man and Tyrannus.

Of course, our hero has never needed much persuasion to get into a scrap but, this time, he has extra motivation, as it means he gets to hang around with his new-found pal the mighty Mogol.

But, hold on. Can it be true? In the heat of conflict, can it turn out his ally is no man but a machine?

And just how is the Hulkster going to react to that discovery?

Daredevil, meanwhile, is still in the Savage Land, still suffering from a power failure when it comes to his super-senses and at the mercy of the murderous man-ape Maa-Gor!

The Fantastic Three, meanwhile, are still having to overcome a Frightful Four bolstered by the addition of the Thing.

And the back cover gives us another chance to win a fishing rod, by the simple act of identifying boats.

The Avengers #38, Shang-Chi

Shang-Chi's in Miami where he heads off to visit a museum, for reasons I don't recall, and it all ends up with him battling some people who want to steal the building's statue of Buddha.

Elsewhere, Pietro's been kidnapped by aliens, which means the rest of the Avengers have to go looking for him.

Fortunately, those aliens haven't gone very far and the gang manage to locate their parked spaceship, thanks to the Scarlet Witch having developed some sort of radar sense that I don't recall ever being mentioned again.

And, finally, Dr Strange is still struggling with the deadly menace of Kaluu.

But, perhaps more significantly, we get what I believe to be our first-ever glimpse of Umar sister of Dormammu!

Spider-Man Comics Weekly #69, Mysterio

It can only spell trouble for Spider-Man when Mysterio returns - and does so with a plan that could destroy the mind of any man.

But there may be even greater peril than that on the horizon because, in another part of town, Norman Osborn's remembered he's the Green Goblin!

And if that's happened, how long can it be before he remembers our hero is his own son's flatmate?

Iron Man's still putting up a brave battle against the awesome might of the Scarecrow.

And Thor's got more trouble on his plate than even that. No sooner has he managed to battle his way to the strange alien world of Rigel, than he has to come face-to-face with the strange alien world of Ego - the living planet.

And we finish off with a Lee/Ditko short in which a man believes he's uncovered an alien invasion - only to discover that he's the alien invader. And that he's been suffering from amnesia.


Anonymous said...

Is Bovril any good? A book Charlie is reading says you gents ate it on bread in the 1970s and also drank it? Like by the bucket loads?

Anonymous said...

It's good as a beefy drink. Spread on bread, nice - but taste a bit strong, at maximum concentration. As a middle-aged guy, with high blood pressure, however - avoid! It has too much salt in it.


Colin Jones said...

There's a connection between Dr Who and Nigel Farage's attempt to become MP for Clacton in this general election. The current MP for Clacton is called Giles Watling and his sister, Deborah Watling, was an actress who played the Dr Who companion Victoria in the late '60s.

Colin Jones said...

The BBC missed a trick with Dr Who - whenever he introduces himself as The Doctor somebody else should say "Doctor who?" which could have been a long-running joke throughout the history of the series.

I'll get me coat.

Colin Jones said...

Charlie, Bovril is meant to be a hot drink and Marmite is for spreading on bread.

Anonymous said...

I used to buy a cup of Bovril at the football, during winter, to keep my hands warm. I didn’t realise you were meant to drink it ;-)


I’ll get my coat

B Smith said...

Apparently it's thanks to Sparks that The Rubettes had a #1. According to the expertise from the poptastic ChartMusic podcast, "Sugar Baby Love" had been released and was scuffling around somewhere south of the Top 40. The Top Of The Pops producer was going to have Sparks on doing "This Town Ain't Big Enough" when he discovered, quel horreur, that the Mael brothers weren't members of the Musician's Union. So, no going on TV for them! Panicking, he rang The Rubettes' manager and told him that if he could guarantee the boys were in the studio by 6.00pm that evening, they'd be on. The manager phoned all the members, and hurriedly ordered twelve white suits delivered to the BBC (all of different sizes, as he wasn't sure what size any of them were).

Of such matters are careers born...

Anonymous said...

Rather be lucky than good any day of the week!

Anonymous said...

Good god….! There are literally Zombie Cicadas out there!!! Apparently a fungus is causing Cicadas genitalia to fall off, replacing it with a white fungal blob. The Cicadas, minus genitalia, are now in a hypersexualized state and trying to mate at all costs. They can do this because the fungus also gives the Cicadas a huge blast of “dopamine” needed to ignore their missing parts.

As they ”mate,” the white fungal blob is ripped off causing the Cicada to fly around and rain white fungal spores on all, thus spreading the fungus even more.

This is especially prevalent in Illinois since it is ground zero for both the 13 and 17 year broods emerging this year. (Do your maths to figure out how often that happens!). But there are literally billions of these screaming bastards flying around… genitalia or no genitalia! Raining fungus spores on us all the while.

And think about this… after 3.8 billion years of evolution there is a fungus out there thriving because it causes an insect’s genitals to fall off every 13 or 17 years!!!

Ffs… Charlie is downright scared to go out side!

MP? Red? Are you guys part of this biblical-like event?

Redartz said...

No, Charlie; I'm not currently experiencing the phenomena you describe. Fortunately,,,

That Spider-Man Weekly cover is another Romita favorite! Had it on the Marvel Tales reprint about this time back then. Interestingly they changed the background color and added a moon (the original on ASM 66 was a white background); the new one looked quite sharp...

Anonymous said...

Geeze Louise… all those Victor, Valiant, Hot Spur, Roy of the Rovers, etc I read growing up and I don’t recall a bizarro-world plot of England losing to Iceland.

Anonymous said...

Red, I remember that MARVEL TALES Mysterio cover well! It was my first MARVEL TALES and my first Romita Spidey.


Anonymous said...

No cicadas here in South Dakota, Charles.
We're well out of their range.
And lemme tell ya, I for one am grateful. The buzzing must be absolutely maddening. Not to mention all the crunchy little corpses that will soon be strewn all over God's Green Goodness.
It must be like trying not to step on goose poop at the park. Pretty darn much impossible.


Colin Jones said...

No cicadas here but lots of crows flying around my back garden earlier this afternoon and making a terrible racket with their cawing and squawking - they seemed to be in a kind of gang war as far as I could see but it's all quiet now.

Anonymous said...

Steve, that story about Shang-a-lang-Chi at the museum appeared in Giant-Size Master of Kung Fu #1 which had a September '74 cover date, which went on sale - I looked it up - on June 25th. So that would mean it was published in the UK before the US. Which I think is a first?

Perhaps unsurprisingly given the story's title, 'Frozen Past, Shattered Memories' it marked Doug Moench's arrival on the series (also from G-S MOKF #1: 'Reflections in a Rippled Pool' - how very second tier mid-70s Marvel, eh?)
It was fairly poor though, so not an auspicious start for him.
Some of that was down to (then) new young artist Craig Russell, who's early work was possibly even worse than Paul Gulacy's.


Anonymous said...

Re: Bovril - I believe the name comes from a combination of 'bovine' and 'Vril'.

Vril was a powerful electro-magnetic fluid that was a source of energy for the inhabitants of the subterranean world of Edward Bulwer-Lytton's 1871 novel 'The Coming Race', which - besides making an impression on the creators of meat extract - also went on to have a big influence dodgy occultists and loonies with theories about the Hollow Earth, Atlantis, Lemuria and whatnot, from the Theosophists and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, to David Bowie ('Oh you pretty things... they're the start of the coming race').

I guess its relevant here because of the Mole Man and Tyrannus, Charlie..?
Jack Kirby picked up on a lot of that stuff too.


Anonymous said...

*influence ON dodgy occultists...

Anonymous said...

Sean, I disagree with you about Gulacy — I dig his first five or six pencilling jobs, they remind me of Steranko’s early, more exaggerated Nick Fury stuff — but I agree that Russell’s art in GS MOKF 1 is pretty bad. It just looks very rushed to me, so maybe he had to crank it out under an especially unforgiving deadline. His next few pencilling jobs (two Morbius stories in FEAR and his first Killraven story in AMAZING ADVENTURES) looked much, much better.

A super-tight deadline could also help account for the somewhat ‘basic’ quality of Moench’s stories in GS MOKF 1. None of them seem like he put a lot of effort into them.

And I think it’s likely that Kirby may have picked up the Lemuria / Underworld stuff from the nutty ‘Shaver Mystery’ nonsense in AMAZING STORIES. We know he was a fan of the Sci-fi pulps.


Anonymous said...

b.t., I think the Shaver mystery is one instance of how that stuff percolated quite widely in the pulps. Worth noting that German engineer and science writer Willy Ley - who fled the Nazis to move to the US in the late 30s - used to write about stuff like that for Astounding. As well as rocketry, and space travel.

Those GS MOKF stories by Doug Moench are reminiscent of some of the early horror black & whites in how basic they are - think Gerber's Morbius in Vampire Tales #1 - so I expect thats right about him working to a tight deadline. Probably he was asked to come up with something that could stand alone as an intro to the character too.

Maybe Craig Russell also had to work fast. Worth pointing out though that unlike his other early stuff - on Morbius, and his first Killraven (which all appeared in consecutive months) - he did his own inks on that MOKF story. So I wonder if that was a factor in it being noticeably worse than the others?

Btw, I'm not trying to knock the guy (or Gulacy). Artists are generally pretty wobbly early on, and they've got to start somewhere.


Anonymous said...

Oh, Russell’s own mushy inks on that Shang-chi story are definitely part of the problem. There are some panels that look barely professional. It’s remarkable how rapidly his skills improved — just four months later, he was inking his own pencils on the Killraven series, (beginning with his second issue, AMAZING ADVENTURES 28) and it looked like the work of a completely different person.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, b.t., AA #28 is where Russell first gets noticeably good. I have a soft spot for his Morbius comics, where you can start to see some aspects of what became his distinctive approach (if you squint a bit ;)
But I suspect having an old pro like, say, Vince Colletta inking his work in Fear #23 helped with making it look competent. After his second Killraven story though it was always disappointing when he didn't get to finish his own work - suddenly instead of fixing any problems, inkers were holding him back.


Anonymous said...

I like Russell’s two Morbius issues too. After his art in GSMOKF 1 left a bad impression, the Morbius stories had me re-evaluating his abilities. FEAR 24 (Morbius vs Blade, inks by Jack Abel) especially made me think he wasn’t just competent, but potentially very, VERY good. After AA 28, I was absolutely A Fan.