The MWOM & SMCW Timeline

mwom timeline logo
“The what timeline?” I imagine that I hear you ask. Wonder no more, chum: those four-letter words that look a bit like they might be the names of Welsh TV stations are the commonly-used shortcuts for The Mighty World of Marvel and Spider-Man Comics Weekly, the first two titles released by the British wing of Marvel.

mwom1A lot of Marvel strips had already been reprinted in the UK in the likes of Smash!, Pow!, Fantastic and TV21, frequently very heavily edited, but starting with 1972 we got the real stuff, complete and unadulterated except for the often crudely-corrected American spellings, and the occasional dropped or redrawn panel, or missing page, and the almost complete lack of colour, and the lower-quality paper. No, it’s unfair to pick on those things! In that era the comics scenes on the opposing sides of the Atlantic were entirely different beasts. In the US comics were usually monthly and generally featured one main tale and — sometimes — a shorter back-up strip. In the UK, comics were mostly weekly anthologies with multiple strips. A very different mind-set. To attempt to compete in the very established British market, using material that had never been designed to fit, was a bold move indeed.

As mentioned before, my very first exposure to Marvel comics was issue #5, dated November 4, 1972, of The Mighty World of Marvel, and even now I can recall the buzz I’d felt upon seeing those stories for the first time. Before that, comics had been humorous things featuring talking cartoon animals that generally wore one item of human clothing and whose main aim in life seemed to involve strings of sausages or pies. Now, suddenly, comics were presenting exciting, intense, world-shattering stories populated by characters with incredible abilities — and serious afflictions. Wonderful stuff! Tom and Jerry and Bobo Bunny no longer held my interest: they had been severely trounced by an orange rock-monster and a teenager who could walk up walls.

It was my interest in the 70s and 80s British Marvel comics that, a few years ago, sparked my desire to compile a list of all the British comics ever published (over 1700 titles so far, folks, and I doubt I’m even close to the end), and that interest ultimately led me to this blog. Fun fact, trivia fans: I briefly toyed with the idea of calling the blog “The Marvy World of Michael” — but a rare bout of common sense arrived just in time and mentally slapped itself into me. I even got as far as creating a logo…


Anyway… I had thought that there’d been in the region of forty Marvel UK titles. Forty-five at a push. Nope! There’s been a lot more than that! 198 at the last count… which was a few years ago: after about 1995 when Marvel UK were sold to Panini it starts to get very confusing with titles being cancelled, renamed and relaunched all over the place. This is why I haven’t done the complete Marvel UK timeline — every time I attempt to compile and verify all that info I start to lose the will to live.

My second thought for this chart was to restrict it to only the titles published by “proper” Marvel and ignore all the Panini books, but there’s a lot of crossover there. Plus by the time we get to the late 80s it’s almost all tie-in stuff and I have to be in the right mood to summon up enough interest or energy to trek through the internet trying to verify exactly how many issues of Sindy Magazine or Get Along Gang were published.

ladylovelylocksSo instead, I decided to focus — for now — on only the two main “trees” in the timeline, coincidentally the first two Marvel UK titles. So we’re omitting a lot of stuff that just doesn’t link to those trees. Mostly, it’s a whole bunch of tie-ins: Star Wars, Blake’s 7, Transformers, Thundercats, Care Bears, Thomas the Tank-Engine, Muppet Babies, Worzel Gummidge, The Real Ghostbusters, Doctor Who Weekly (which is still going strong, albeit now in magazine form), as well as a girls’ comic that I’m still not sure ever made it past the first issue (Bea), and Top Cat’s TV Comic Show, about which I know very little other than that it has a title clearly conjured up by a committee.

Many comics containing Marvel’s own original material are also missing from this timeline, including the nine A5-sized “Pocket Books” reprint titles (Chiller, Star Heroes — later retitled X-Men, Spider-Man, The Fabulous Fantastic Four, Conan, The Incredible Hulk, Young Romance, The Titans and Marvel Classics Comics) as well as Forces in Combat, Valour, Future Tense, the covered-before-on-this-blog Captain America weekly, Marvel Action (great title!), Marvel Super Adventure (horrible title!), Secret Wars, the much-lauded Captain Britain monthly, and Spider-Man and Zoids (a tie-in that contained some great original strips that easily eclipsed their source material).

Back to the MWOM and SMCW timelines. Here’s the chart (I know it’s kinda sparse compared to its predecessors on this site, but I make up for that by waffling on a lot about each title)…

mwomtimeline s(The above image has accidentally been exposed to Pym Particles.
Click on it to shake them off and see how it should look normally!)

mwom1The Mighty World of Marvel (1972)
From: 7 October, 1972
To: 1 May, 1983
Duration: 10 years, 7 months
Issues: 397
Absorbed: The Avengers, Planet of the Apes, Fury, The Complete Fantastic Four, Rampage Monthly, Savage Action Monthly
Absorbed into: The Daredevils

It all began here, true believers! Spider-Man was the break-out star, but the Hulk was a close second and a few months after Spidey ran away from home to start his own comic (he was replaced in MWOM by Daredevil), the Hulk was honoured by having his name added to the title: from issue #38 (23 June 1973) until #329 (17 January 1979) the title was The Mighty World of Marvel Featuring The Incredible Hulk, with many variations (e.g., The Mighty World of Marvel Featuring The Incredible Hulk and The Avengers, The Mighty World of Marvel Featuring The Incredible Hulk and Planet of the Apes) depending on the comic it had most recently absorbed. It was officially rebranded Marvel Comic from #330 (24 January 1979) and given a very snazzy new logo, then revamped as a monthly comic — Marvel Super-Heroes — from #353 (September 1979).

smcw1Spider-Man Comics Weekly
From: 17 February, 1973
To: 14 December, 1985
Duration: 12 years, 10 months
Issues: 666
Absorbed: The Super-Heroes, The Titans, Captain Britain (1976), Hulk Comic, Marvel Team-Up, The Incredible Hulk, Fantastic Four, The Mighty Thor, The Thing is Big Ben, Indiana Jones

I never understood why this was called Spider-Man Comics Weekly and not just Spider-Man. Or even Spider-Man Weekly, if they really felt the need to reassure the public that it wasn’t a daily comic. But why is “Comics” in the title? We know it’s a comic! Even the least sophisticated reader was unlikely to mistake it for an umbrella or an Etruscan-era sandal. Anyway… SMCW was the longest-lasting and most voracious of the Marvel superhero titles, with ten kills under its belt. Retitled and revamped many times, mostly due to those mergers… What’s that? You’d like a full list of those titles? Happy to oblige, true believer!

#1 (17 Feb 1973): Spider-Man Comics Weekly
#158 (21 Feb 1976): Super Spider-Man with The Superheroes
#199 (1 Dec 1976): Super Spider-Man and The Titans
#231 (13 Jul 1977): Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain
#254 (21 Dec 1977): Super Spider-Man
#311 (24 Jan 1979): Spider-Man Comic
#334 (1 Aug 1979): The Spectacular Spider-Man Weekly and Marvel Comic
#337 (22 Aug 1979): The Spectacular Spider-Man Weekly
#372 (24 Apr 1980): The Spectacular Spider-Man
#376 (21 May 1980): Spider-Man and Hulk Weekly
#418 (11 Mar 1981): Spider-Man and Hulk Incorporating Team-Up
#425 (27 Apr 1981): Spider-Man and Hulk Team-Up
#450 (21 Oct 1981): Super Spider-Man TV Comic
#500 (6 Oct 1982): Spider-Man
#553 (12 Oct 1983): Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends
#579 (11 Apr 1984): Spider-Man
#634 (27 May 1985): The Spider-Man Comic
#651 (31 Aug 1985): Spidey Comic

avengers1The Avengers
From: 22 September, 1973
To: 14 July, 1976
Duration: 2 years, 10 months
Issues: 148
Absorbed: The Savage Sword of Conan (1975)
Absorbed into: The Mighty World of Marvel (1972)

The first three US Avengers issues had been reprinted in MWOM, so this title kicks off with a reprint of issue #4, which is a darned good place to start because it depicts the return of Captain America to the then-modern era. As I’ve mentioned before, my first issue was #13, which introduced Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye and Quicksilver to the team. Though I’d read many, many issues of both MWOM and SMCW, and loved them, The Avengers really struck a chord with me. In response to the popularity of the TV show Kung-Fu (which I have still never seen, by the way), Marvel’s Master of Kung-Fu strip arrived in issue #28 and this was heralded by giving him equal billing on the cover for the next twenty-four issues: The Avengers Starring Shang-Chi — Master of Kung-Fu then Iron Fist arrived, and for a long time the title flipped around between The Avengers, The Avengers Starring Iron Fist, The Avengers Featuring Doctor Strange, and The Avengers Starring Shang-Chi — Master of Kung-Fu (or slight variations thereof) before finally settling down with The Avengers with issue #81. However, The Savage Sword of Conan was merged into the title from issue #95, and from then to the rest of its days the comic became The Avengers and The Savage Sword of Conan.

dracula1Dracula Lives
From: 26 October, 1974
To: 19 June, 1976
Duration: 1 year, 8 months
Issues: 87
Absorbed into: Planet of the Apes

This always struck me as a slightly odd move: sure, horror movies were popular in the early 70s, but after three hit superhero titles — and still with a massive back-catalogue of other superhero material — it was surely a risk to launch a horror-themed comic. Still, it paid off: 87 issues isn’t a bad run at all. (For a while I did wonder if maybe “Lives” part of the title should be pronounced to rhyme with “chives.” My assailable logic was that in the movies, Dracula was always being killed and then resurrected. Therefore, these stories are about Dracula’s lives. There’s still a tiny part of me that wants that to be true.) The “Dracula” strips were culled from Tomb of Dracula, backed-up with strips taken from a variety of other US Marvel horror comics such as Ghost Rider, Man-Thing, and Son of Satan. Retitled Dracula Lives featuring The Legion of Monsters from #60.

pota1Planet of the Apes
From: 26 October, 1974
To: 26 February, 1977
Duration: 2 years, 4 months
Issues: 123
Absorbed: Dracula Lives
Absorbed into: The Mighty World of Marvel (1972)

Planet of the Apes was huge in the early 70s, spurred on by the TV series and the first showings of the 1968 movie on television (kids, it really did take that long for movies to show up on TV back then!). I’ve covered the first issue before on this blog — check it out here. Most interesting is that the franchise was considerably more popular over here on this side of the Atlantic than in the US: Marvel ran out of comics to reprint so instead they “adapted” their Killraven comic — an unofficial sequel to War of the Worlds — by replacing the Martians with apes. After the merger with the Dracula title, the comic became Planet of the Apes and Dracula Lives from #88, which surely must be shortlisted in the award for the most “Wait, what?” comic-title of the 1970s.

savageswordofconan1The Savage Sword of Conan (1975)
From: 8 March, 1975
To: 5 July, 1975
Duration: 4 months
Issues: 18
Absorbed into: The Avengers

The first casualty… To my mind, a Conan comic wasn’t as much of a risk as a Dracula comic — I absolutely loved it — but nevertheless, it failed to gain much traction and was rather awkwardly hammered into The Avengers where it didn’t quite fit. (Though as we’ll soon see, Marvel weren’t about to consign their Conan back-catalogue to the bin). As far as I can recall, the only back-up strip was Kull the Conqueror, also based on a character created by Robert E. Howard.

superheroes1The Super-Heroes
From: 8 March, 1975
To: 14 February, 1976
Duration: 11 months
Issues: 50
Absorbed into: Spider-Man Comics Weekly

Ah, this is the stuff! I adored this comic so much that I mostly stopped getting The Avengers (I couldn’t always afford two comics per week). Though like its predecessors it was an anthology title, the angst-ridden but utterly awesome Silver Surfer was very definitely the main man, taking the cover spot for the first twenty-two issues, and sharing it thereafter for the next eight. At that point, the source material for the Surfer stories ran out, so the X-Men were elevated to first place. They’d been there from the start, providing back-up, but although the X-Men strips were created only a few years before the Surfer strips, they look and feel so much more primitive. Later strips included Giant-Man and the Wasp, Beware! The Claws of the Cat!, The Scarecrow, and the great Doc Savage.

titans1wThe Titans
From: 25 October, 1975
To: 24 November, 1976
Duration: 1 year, 1 month
Issues: 58
Absorbed into: Spider-Man Comics Weekly

Landscape format! An innovation so innovative it’s astonishing that no one else was doing it! As mentioned elsewhere, the comics were turned on their side, with each page reprinting two original pages — thus giving us just about twice as much Marvel Goodness as the other comics! Loved it! By the time it was absorbed into the regular Spider-Man title, that too had temporarily gone into landscape mode. Problem is, that format goes through material at an incredible rate: it’s not sustainable. (See also the poster that came free with The Titans issue #1.)

captainbritain1Captain Britain (1976)
From: 13 October, 1976
To: 6 July, 1977
Duration: 9 months
Issues: 39
Absorbed into: Spider-Man Comics Weekly

Marvel UK’s first home-grown hero! I loved Captain Britain, but my enjoyment of it was always tainted a little because in 1970s’ Ireland it wasn’t really the done thing to be a fan of anything overtly British. A second Captain Britain title was launched in January 1985 and ran for fourteen issues — which are now highly collectible.

From: 16 March, 1977
To: 31 August, 1977
Duration: 5 months
Issues: 25
Absorbed into: The Mighty World of Marvel (1972)

An attempt to take a slice of the lucrative war-comics market dominated by DC Thomson’s Warlord and IPC’s Battle Picture WeeklyFury was a great idea, but — despite a run of stunning new covers by Carlos Ezquerra — in execution it was a bit of a misfire. It did boast some interesting features, but the strips — Captain Savage and his Leatherneck Raiders and Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos — just felt out-of-place in a market where the competition was giving us the likes of Union Jack Jackson and Johnny Red.

completeff1The Complete Fantastic Four
From: 28 September, 1977
To: 7 June, 1978
Duration: 8 months
Issues: 37
Absorbed into: The Mighty World of Marvel (1972)

The first of Marvel UK’s attempts to launch a standalone Fantastic Four publication. I love the FF, but even I can admit that they’re a little bit of a hard sell on this side of the pond. Certainly, I always found it harder to identify with them than with The Avengers or Spider-Man. Because… let’s be blunt here…  while the stories are mind-blowingly good, and The Thing and the Human Torch are fun, the other fifty percent of the quartet are eye-rollingly dull. Especially Reed. And Sue. But moreso Reed. He’s so dull sometimes that I can’t even bring myself to finish this

From: 19 October, 1977
To: 7 June, 1978
Duration: 7 months
Issues: 34
Relaunched as: Rampage Monthly

When compiling my lists I was surprised to see that Rampage only lasted thirty-four issues: had anyone asked I would have said it had been around for a lot longer than that (though my confusion could be because its replacement, Rampage Monthly, lasted for four and a half years). The lead strip in Rampage was The Defenders and in fact, the comic should more properly be called Rampage starring The Daring Defenders because that title appeared on the cover of every issue, as did The Defenders themselves. The main back-up strip, The Man Called Nova appears in a tiny box on the cover of the first issue and that’s it. Shame! (I think his first starring cover-spot was a couple of years later in Spider-Man Comic #328) While I’ve always liked The Defenders, Nova quickly became one of my all-time favourite characters, a position very much solidified when he joined the New Warriors in 1990, probably my favourite superhero comic ever!

savageswordofconanm1The Savage Sword of Conan (1977)
From: 30 November, 1977
To: 31 July, 1985
Duration: 7 years, 8 months
Issues: 93
Absorbed: The Mighty World of Marvel (1983)

It’s Conan again, but this time the comic is (a) bigger, (b) more expensive, (c) monthly and (d) aimed at a more adult audience. Now, arguers may argue, but I reckon this was a bigger gamble than just about anything Marvel UK had done since launching MWOM five years earlier. In the mid-1970s UK, adult comics really weren’t a big thing at all. So they took a chance, and it really paid off (later boosted no doubt by the Arnold Schwarzenegger Conan movies, which from a certain viewpoint were movies based on Marvel characters — but then if we’re taking that viewpoint, we also have to say the same about every Dracula movie, and they’ve been around a lot longer).

rampagemonthly1Rampage Monthly
From: 1 July, 1978
To: 30 December, 1982
Duration: 4 years, 6 months
Issues: 54
Relaunch of: Rampage
Absorbed: Blockbuster
Absorbed into: The Mighty World of Marvel (1972)

The weekly Rampage didn’t really get off the ground, but this monthly revamp was a definite success… though it was a tad uncertain about its identity. It was retitled Rampage Monthly Starring The Hulk from issue #4 (October 1978), Rampage Magazine Starring The Hulk from issue #6 (December 1978), with “The Hulk” part being much, much larger than the “Rampage Magazine” part. But the changes didn’t stop there, folks. From issue #28 (October 1980) the X-Men took over the title: Rampage Magazine Starring The All-New, All-Different X-Men. It became Rampage Magazine: X-Men Incorporating Blockbuster for issue #45 (March 1982), but the “Blockbuster” part lasted for only that one issue. From the next issue on, it was simply Rampage Magazine: X-Men. Other strips included The Thing team-ups from Marvel Two-In-One, Doctor Strange, and Luke Cage.

hulk1Hulk Comic
From: 7 March, 1979
To: 15 May, 1980
Duration: 1 year, 2 months
Issues: 63
Absorbed into: Spider-Man Comics Weekly

The Incredible Hulk TV show was massively popular. It elevated the character into the public consciousness to the point where a comedian like Ken Dodd would make a Hulk joke and everyone would know what he was talking about! So it was natural for Marvel to jump on the bandwagon they’d set rolling and publish a stand-alone Hulk title. I recall that the first issue featured a new, home-grown tale (drawn by Dave Gibbons, I think) that was closer to the TV version — Hulk didn’t speak — in order to ease the transition for new readers only familiar with the TV version. Other strips of note include Captain Britain and The Black Knight — always one of my favourites. The comic was retitled The Incredible Hulk Weekly from #47 (Jan 23, 1980), then The Incredible Hulk from #59 (April 17, 1980).

teamup1Marvel Team-Up
From: 11 September, 1980
To: 4 March, 1981
Duration: 6 months
Issues: 25
Absorbed into: Spider-Man Comics Weekly

This one reprinted issues of the US Marvel Team-Up title in which Spidey would be paired with another hero for one-off adventures. The first cover boasts “7 All-Action Super-Stories!” which might sound like a good deal, but really it wasn’t. It should have said “Small Excerpts from 7 All-Action Super-Stories that Were Never Designed to be Split Like That.” This was the beginning of the end for me with Marvel UK, sorry to say. Much as I still loved the stories and comics — and that’s a gorgeous Spidey on the cover of issue #1 there — the shine was beginning to fade. Partly, this was because the glossy covers had been dropped for most of the weekly titles, but mostly it was because I was getting older: fourteen and a half when Marvel Team-Up appeared, and very much entrenched in 2000AD… And it didn’t help that the US editions of Marvel comics were becoming much more easily available: glossy covers, colour throughout and complete stories that hadn’t been butchered into four-page chunks!

savageaction1Savage Action
From: 1 November, 1980
To: 1 January, 1982
Duration: 1 year, 2 months
Issues: 15
Absorbed into: The Mighty World of Marvel (1972)

Another adult-oriented comic here. The Punisher was only just beginning to take off in popularity — there was a time in the 90s when every comic was a Punisher comic — so Marvel were really ahead of the curve with this one. Moon Knight, Ka-Zar and Night Raven provided the back-up: eclectic strips, but good stuff!

From: 1 June, 1981
To: 1 February, 1982
Duration: 8 months
Issues: 9
Absorbed into: Rampage Monthly

Blockbuster was a monthly title designed as a companion to Rampage Monthly, but it lacked the polish of titles like Savage Action, and just didn’t take hold despite the quality strips: Iron Fist, The Inhumans and Omega the Unknown.

incrediblehulkThe Incredible Hulk
From: 31 March, 1982
To: 29 September, 1982
Duration: 6 months
Issues: 27
Absorbed into: Spider-Man Comics Weekly

Third go around for a Hulk-led title (there was one more to come before the Panini era: The Incredible Hulk Presents in 1989). Iron Man, X-Men and The Inhumans were among the back-up strips. I bought a few issues but it didn’t make much of an impression on me.

fantasticfour1Fantastic Four
From: 6 October, 1982
To: 20 April, 1983
Duration: 6 months
Issues: 29
Absorbed into: Spider-Man Comics Weekly

Continuing on from where the Fantastic Four Pocket Book left off, this was Marvel UK’s third go at a solo FF title. I understand that, I really do: the FF stories are amazing, but more than most Marvel strips they suffer from being chopped up into little pieces. The FF Pocket-Book did a good job of keeping the tales intact, as did this title for the first few issues, but it just wasn’t enough.

daredevils1The Daredevils
From: 1 January, 1983
To: 1 November, 1983
Duration: 10 months
Issues: 11
Absorbed: The Mighty World of Marvel (1972)
Absorbed into: The Mighty World of Marvel (1983)

This monthly title has a very positive reputation primarily because it presented the revamped version of Captain Britain by Alan Moore and Alan Davis. Sadly it would be a few years before the strip’s greatness was widely recognised — too late to save the comic. However, sales of The Daredevils were strong enough that it absorbed the failing 1972 version of The Mighty World of Marvel (now rebranded as Marvel Super-Heroes), before it was in turn absorbed by the relaunched version of The Mighty World of Marvel in 1983.

thor1The Mighty Thor
From: 20 April, 1983
To: 11 January, 1984
Duration: 9 months
Issues: 39
Absorbed: The Original X-Men
Absorbed into: Spider-Man Comics Weekly

After several monthly titles, it was back to the weeklies with this one. Positive: full colour throughout! Negative: the big push on the cover for the free gift… this was a sign of things to come, you mark my words! Retitled The Mighty Thor and the X-Men from #20, Thor and the X-Men from #25.

x-men1The Original X-Men
From: 27 April, 1983
To: 17 August, 1983
Duration: 4 months
Issues: 17
Absorbed into: The Mighty Thor

In the same vein as The Mighty Thor, which eventually absorbed it. Again, a big push for the free gift.

mwom2The Mighty World of Marvel (1983)
From: 1 June, 1983
To: 1 October, 1984
Duration: 1 year, 4 months
Issues: 17
Absorbed: The Daredevils
Absorbed into: The Savage Sword of Conan (1977)

Only a few months after the original Mighty World of Marvel bit the dust, this new monthly version was launched. I recall being particularly moved by the reappearance of the original logo, too — a nice touch! The strips included the classic X-Men tale “Days of Future Past”, as well as the Vision and Scarlet Witch mini-series, Wolverine, and later Captain Britain and Night Raven. This is quality stuff — it really should have lasted more than seventeen issues!

bigben1The Thing is Big Ben
From: 28 March, 1984
To: 25 July, 1984
Duration: 4 months
Issues: 18
Absorbed into: Spider-Man Comics Weekly

After three Fantastic Four titles, it was time to give the star of that group, the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed Thing, Benjamin Grimm, his very own comic! And calling it “Big Ben” makes it extra-Londony and therefore extra-appealing to a UK audience, right, guys? Sadly, from the get-go this one just felt like a non-starter.

indianajones1Indiana Jones
From: 1 October, 1984
To: 1 August, 1985
Duration: 10 months
Issues: 11
Absorbed into: Spider-Man Comics Weekly

This wasn’t Marvel’s first tie-in comic, of course — that was the very successful Planet of the Apes — but it stands out because it was the final title to be consumed by Spider-Man Comics Weekly (which by now had been redirected towards a much younger audience — it had been rebranded The Spider-Man Comic and given the lamest logo of any Marvel comic ever — and was very much on its last legs).

So what have we learned from all this? Well, maybe not much. The purpose of these time-lines is to get a sense of how and when things happened in relation to each other. I hadn’t realised, for example, that the revived version of Marvel UK’s first “failed” title — The Savage Sword of Conan — ended up being so successful it outlasted everything else on its tree. Nor had I been aware that Spider-Man Comics Weekly had consumed two separate Hulk comics. I certainly didn’t realise that Fury existed at the same time as the first Captain Britain title — they feel like they’re from very different eras.

The story doesn’t end here, of course. There were lots more Marvel UK titles to come, but they’re outside the scope of this feature… One day, perhaps, I’ll expand on this and create a complete time-line, but I suspect that day is so far over the horizon even the flat-earthers can’t see it.

According to my data, Marvel UK’s most prolific week of the 70s and 80s was around the start of June 1981, with twenty-three regular comics on the shelves… The Mighty World of Marvel, Spider-Man Comics Weekly, The Savage Sword of Conan (the monthly edition), Star Wars Weekly, Rampage Monthly, Superhero Fun and Games, Doctor Who Weekly, Chiller Pocket Book, Frantic, Star Heroes Pocket Book, Spider-Man Pocket Book, The Fabulous Fantastic Four Pocket Book, Conan the Barbarian Pocket Book, The Incredible Hulk Pocket Book, Young Romance Pocket Book, Savage Action Monthly, The Titans Pocket Book, Future Tense, Captain America, Marvel Action, Marvel Super Adventure, Blockbuster, Marvel Madhouse. (Some might add the great Epic Illustrated into the mix, but I’m fairly sure that it was only imported to the UK and not actually published there.)

Looking back over these two time-lines, it does seem like they existed only for a very brief period, but then time moved slower in the past. MWOM in particular felt like it had been around forever and would always endure. It was not to be, sadly. The market shifted, and shrunk, and then split: comics were mostly aimed either at little kids (where they weren’t much more than a delivery system for free plastic toys) or at proto-adults who demanded proper American comics, not the watered-down, truncated and bowdlerised versions we’d been given up to that point.

So it all ends on a sad note, in a way. Marvel in the UK had shone so very brightly at first, equalling their UK-grown rivals, but that shine faded all too soon, eclipsed by the likes of 2000AD and Battle Picture Weekly. Nevertheless, the incredible impact of Marvel’s earlier titles absolutely can’t be denied. In Stan Lee’s regular editorials in those comics — most likely not written by Stan himself, but that didn’t matter — he asked us to keep the faith: “Make Mine Marvel!” was one of their most common slogans, and for a long time we did just that… and it was glorious!

As always, the information herein is presented in good faith: mistakes are unintentional and corrections are very much welcome!

16 thoughts on “The MWOM & SMCW Timeline

  1. Hello Michael, that chart is a thing of rare beauty.

    My first MWOM issue was a couple of years later than you, but it had such a brilliant. bonkers cover (‘Who Will Judge The Hulk?’) that I was hooked for life. I made a little strip about what it was like reading MWOM as a child:

    Your precis of each title has brought it all back to me: the incredible density of material in The Titans and Super Spider-Man and the Superheroes, the incongruity of Conan and the Avengers in one comic that I totally took for granted, the weird Anglicisation of the text (tippexed-out ‘cents’ replaced by ‘pence), not to mention the brilliant lunacy of POTA’s Ape-Slayer (a reskinned Killraven fighting apes instead of martians).

    For me, the romance ended when MWOM went all dull and low-budget with the Marvel Comic relaunch, though later monthlies like The Daredevils and Captain Britain brought back the magic.



  2. Fantastic stuff!! I started one issue after you – MWOM #6 – but sent off immediately for the first five back issues. So, within a couple of weeks, I had every MWOM from #1.

    That continued up until 1977 or so – complete runs of MWOM, SMCW. The Avengers, Conan, and The Super-Heroes. Didn’t bother with Dracula Lives (not a big fan of horror, and the pocket money could no longer keep pace with the number of comics), only bought a few Planet of the Apes (again, not a great fan, and not enough pocket money) but gave up after the Apeslayer debacle (I was a huge fan of the US Killraven appearances, and I considered Apeslayer an abomination).

    The Titans is one I had a few issues of, but I gave up in disgust. I liked the stories and characters, but absolutely HATED the landscape format with a passion. Squashing two pages sideways into a landscape format made the art far, far too small for my liking.

    Captain Britain is one I bought only a handful of issues of, for exactly the same reason as you – I live in Derry, in Northern Ireland, a strong nationalist city, and walking into a shop and buying Captain Britain at the height of “The Troubles” was taking your life in your hands. The guy or woman behind the counter could’ve been in the IRA, or at least a relative or sympathiser, and buying Captain Britain would’ve been considered way worse than buying Playboy or Penthouse (and this a deeply conservative Catholic city, too). At least they wouldn’t have got you shot. Besides, I didn’t think I was missing anything. The few issues of Captain Britain that I did read, I just thought the character was boring, an extremely lame clone of Captain America, and the stories were crap.

    The last one on this list that I bought was the Savage Sword of Conan monthly, but I only bought a handful of these. I already had a complete run of the US Savage Tales/Savage Sword, so it was a waste of time spending time and money on reprints when I already had the original US comics. At this point, I was deep into the US comics collecting, and UK reprints fell off the radar. After this point, I don’t know any of the UK comics in this list. Seen a few of them on the shelves in shops, but a passing glance at a nice cover is all they got. I never read a single issue of any of the others.


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