What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love and Spider-Man Up A Lamp Post? or Elvis Costello and the Attractions – Armed Forces

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I’m willing to bet you didn’t realize that Peter Parker, you know – Spider-Man, is an Elvis Costello fan. Seriously, way back in 1981 the Purple Man, who has hypnotic abilities, told Spider-Man to climb up a lamp post and recite Shakespeare. Unable to recall any, he asks permission to sing a song and breaks into the Elvis Costello classic “Oliver’s Army.” Honestly… it took place in Marvel Team-Up Annual #4. Here’s another little bit of geek trivia for ya (whether you want it or not), that issue was written by Frank Miller; one of the biggest names in the comic business.

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Anyway, Armed Forces was adored by critics, fans, and Peter Parker. It has also appeared on lists as being one of the greatest all time albums. With those accolades you would expect that Armed Forces would have given the deluxe style treatment… and it has, sort of, but not to extent that perhaps it deserves.

The original 1979 UK release came with a bonus 7” named Live From Hollywood High which contained “Accidents Will Happen”, “Allison” and “Watching The Detectives.” Plenty are available on the resale market, but finding a copy that has both the bonus postcards and the 7” in good condition is a bit more difficult.

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In North America, the same offer was given, but the cover art and song order were different. “Sunday’s Best” was replaced with a cover of the Nick Lowe penned “(What’s so Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding.” Interestingly, it is the Costello version that became most famous and has appeared in the Rolling Stone greatest songs of all time list.

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It wouldn’t be until 1993 that the Armed Forces got a significant upgrade in the CD format. Rykodisc in the US did a complete remaster of the Elvis Costello catalogue and released it with bonus material. In this case, the original UK cover was restored and both “Sunday’s Best” and “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding” were included. The bonus material included the Live From Hollywood High EP plus a few extra tunes.

In 2002, Rhino and Edsel released another remastered Armed Forces on two CD’s. This version brought back differing covers for North America and Europe as well as separating the album proper from the bonus material. The extras also expanded the Live From Hollywood High material to include 9 songs from that event.

Finally, 2010 saw Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab do a half speed 180 gram vinyl remaster with the original UK cover and the full 13 songs including “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding.” I’m hoping that by 2019, we may get both the album and the complete Live From Hollywood High concert on vinyl… but that is wishful thinking.

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I wonder if Peter Parker still has his original copy on vinyl and if Aunt May ever became a fan.

Comic Relief – Shield me (from these crazy prices!) Marvel Team-Up #95 [Spider-Man & Mockingbird]

Amazing what an appearance on a TV show will do for ones image… or value, in the case of a comic book. Take Mockingbird for example.

Back in the 70’s and 80’s when one-shot comic books were the norm, Marvel used to have several ‘team-up vehicles’ to get their more popular characters working with their B, C and even D listers. One such comic was Marvel Team – Up featuring Spider-Man and a new special guest each month.

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If you look at comic catalogues on line, Marvel Team-Up is not a comic that people have viewed in the category of a ‘fine wine’. For the most part they are inexpensive; in fact most new comics sell for more than these ‘vintage’ mags. Still, every so often something strange happens. A character shows up in a movie or TV show, and the whole world starts getting twisted all around. Check out Mondo and their Guardians of the Galaxy posters for a giant example. Of course, a less well known, but equally compelling thing has happened with an old 1980 edition of Marvel Team-Up.

This is the first appearance of Mockingbird. Now while Barbara (Bobbi) Morse appeared earlier in Marvel Comics dating back to 1971, it wasn’t until her 1980 appearance as Mockingbird that the character became a genuine ‘C’ lister.

Think of it like this

A) Popular characters with their own titles like Spider-Man, Thor, Iron-Man and Captain America.

B) Popular team characters like Dr. Strange, Sub-Mariner, various X-Men, and various Avengers

C) Characters who come and go and show on various teams that only comic geeks (like myself) would really know about. Think Wonder-Man, Hercules, Quicksilver and various Inhumans.

D) Characters created only to appear to give hero “something to do” before a real threat shows up… Stilt-Man and various villains who made only one appearance.

Very soon after her spot in Marvel Team-Up she was joining Hawkeye in his mini-series, and following him onto the new West Coast Avengers. Eventually she was killed off and ret-coned back to life during Marvel’s Secret Invasion.

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Anyway, of all the characters the show Agents of Shield could introduce, it turned out to be Mockingbird. To some extent it makes sense. From her very first appearance she was linked to Shield as a scientist and agent of extraordinary talent who had been fighting corruption within Shield itself.

But what wasn’t expected was the renewed interest and value of Marvel Team – Up #95. Where once you could get a copy from your local comic store for under $5.00, you now have people on e-bay trying to sell it for as much as a $100.00. (Actually there are some mint packaged copies that some are trying to sell for as much as $682.08 – but that is insane!)

As one-shot comics go, Marvel Team – Up isn’t bad. It holds up much better than many from the era, but it really shouldn’t be commanding a price tag any higher than $20.00.

As much as I love Agents of Shield and the portrayal of Mockingbird by Adrianne Palicki, it’s weird to think that a comic that had no significant value before this summer is suddenly being sold for a lot more money.

If you spot it, pick it up for a comic fan or a fan of Agents of Shield, but don’t go crazy with the price.