Lord this makes me feel old. I took a little dip into Lew Stringer’s Blimey blog this morning and his top item is a flashback to where Marvel UK began, 45 years ago this weekend. Previously Marvel had licensed material to UK publishers such as L. Miller, Odhams/Fleetway and Alan Class.
Back in 1972, there was an animated tv spot pushing this new weekly, The Mighty World of Marvel, Spidey , Hulk and the FF shot into quick cartoon action culminating in a freeze-frame that was the cover of issue one. I dearly wish I could find a clip on YouTube. That was my pocket money spoken for.
The prospect excited the hell out of me. My dad tried to convince me otherwise because it was all reprints. Regardless, come Saturday morning I grabbed it along with whatever else I was reading in those days, TV Action and I’m not sure what else. It came with a free iron on transfer of the Hulk. I wore that t-shirt to death but still have the comic tucked away in storage.
The first issue of this new mag was 40-pages, spot colour green, some black and white, some full colour, with origin segments for the Hulk, Fantastic Four and Spider-Man all for 5p (one shilling as it had been). There was the inevitable Charles Atlas ad, stamp collecting ads, an encyclopedia and I think something football related. There was a “special” message from Stan Lee, also the first of a series of cut-out coupons that could be collected for a mystery prize - which was eventually revealed as a Buscema -Sinnot poster of the main players. Which is why it’s hard to find a copy without a hole in the centrespread. I still have my tattered copy knocking around somewhere.
Apparently the name came about because Stan Lee had an infatuation with “The Wonderful World of Disney”. How these things come around.
There is a simple perfection about those early issue of The Mighty World Of Marvel. They were reprinting the good stuff for starters. It couldn’t last, of course. After issue 19, Spidey was moved out to his own Spider-Man Comics Weekly and Marvel’s UK empire began its expansions. Some of the changes that would follow were a little weird but the genie was out of the bottle.
The original run of MWOM as it was affectionately known to readers ran for 397 issues (1972-1983) although it changed it’s name to Marvel Comic (does what it says on the label) and then Marvel Super-Heroes.