Friday, June 06, 2014

British Marvel NOW!

Over a year ago, Marvel Comics in the USA instigated their Marvel NOW! relaunch for most of their core titles. New first issues, often new creative teams, even costume changes for several characters. Over here in the UK, the Panini reprints of Marvel Comics are quite a way behind, but this year sees them reach that Marvel NOW! point, - and they're celebrating it with relaunches of their own, staggered across 2014.

Astonishing Spider-Man, which was only six months behind the US Superior Spider-Man comic, relaunched last year with a new No.1. In April, Incredible Hulks relaunched, and this month sees the NOW! factor affect Avengers Assemble which relaunches on June 19th with Avengers Universe No.1.

One comic that's had more relaunches than most is The Mighty World of Marvel. Originating in 1972 as Marvel UK's first weekly, it changed its title to Marvel Comic in 1979, then became the monthly Marvel Superheroes later that same year. It folded in 1983 with No.397 but was swiftly revived as a monthly Mighty World of Marvel with a new No.1, lasting for 17 issues, ending in 1984. Skip to 2003 and The Mighty World of Marvel was back from the dead again, with Vol.3 No.1, published every four weeks by Panini. In 2009, after 86 issues it folded again, but was immediately revived with Vol.4 No.1 the following month.

Which brings us to the present. The current issue of The Mighty World of Marvel (Vol.4 No.62) is the last, but July 3rd will see the beginning of volume 5 with a new No.1 for its Marvel NOW! revamp. It will feature a bold new logo, and the arrival of The Guardians of the Galaxy, just in time for the movie, joining another new series Avengers Arena and rounding each issue off by continuing the Daredevil stories.

As you can see from the covers shown here, the new first issues kick off with a whopping 100 pages, after which they'll settle down to the usual 76 page format. On July 31st Essential X-Men will also restart with a new No.1, with Marvel Legends, and presumably Panini's Wolverine and Deadpool title, set to follow.

Is it really necessary for comics to do this? Well, first issues do hopefully attract increased orders from retailers and, although it's a cliché, they are a good "jumping on point" for new readers. This time around there are some drastic shake-ups in the stories so it does make sense to re-number. Although if it's used too often retailers and readers tend to become jaded. 

For now though, there's a fresh new look coming to the UK Marvel reprints and if you haven't read Marvel Comics for a few years these new premiere issues would be an ideal entry point.


Rocket616 said...

By my calculations that means MWOM volume 5 #1 is issue 563.

Cool blog!

Lew Stringer said...

I wonder if anyone has every issue? I must admit it's a comic I buy but don't keep.

Colin Jones said...

It was rather stupid how they always kept the same numbering in the '70s no matter what happened to the format of the comic - the first issue of the "landscape" Super Spider-Man & The Superheroes was radically different from the final issue of Spider-Man Comics Weekly and yet they just carried on with the same numbering despite it being a totally new comic. And it really bugged me how the infantile Marvel Comic and Spider-Man Comic carried on with the same numbering as MWOM and Super Spider-Man - Dez Skinn was so keen to re-launch the weeklies and yet he kept the same numbering, where's the logic in that? By contrast the 21st Century version of MWOM has been re-started at No.1 twice with only the smallest, superficial changes !!

Lew Stringer said...

Different times, different attitudes. As I understand it, back then a higher cover number was a sign that the comic was a stable seller, so was an incentive for retailers to order, and for readers to buy.

Of course the truth is that MWOM wouldn't have been revamped so many times in the seventies if it's sales had been stable.

It probably wasn't up to Dez whether the comics were renumbered or not. They'd have to bear in mind what would be best for wholesalers and retailers to continue taking the comics. These days, the attitude is reversed, with a No.1 considered more of an incentive it seems.

The only weekly comic that springs to mind back then which was renumbered is TV21 which picked up with No.1 New Series when Joe 90 merged into it in 1969.

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

I bought every issue of the original MWOM weekly (some of the latter multi combined titled versions were not good) through until the last Marvel Superheroes magazine - I still pick it up now and then but like yourself I don't keep them.

In the 70s first issues were not really as popular as they are now , especially when they were for the most part (like the original SMCW changing to "Super Spider-man and the Superheroes") only a relaunch , it was still Spideys comic etc

Lew Stringer said...

Yeah, in the case of Spider-Man and the Superheroes it was a merger, which never really warranted a new No.1 (apart from TV21and Joe 90 as previously noted).

I bought MWOM for the same length of time as you Paul, but I've only kept 20 or so from that era. I've never regretted getting rid as I know they'd be low priority to re-read. I'd rather have the stories in Masterworks and Omnibus editions.

Christopher Nevell said...

Here's an interesting bit of comic history trivia Lew.... I owned the TV21 & Joe 90 logo for a short time and it has an original mark up of No.242 in the margin. Becoming a No.1 was not the original idea.

Lew Stringer said...

That is interesting! Thanks Christopher. There was actually a short delay of a couple of weeks in releasing that first combined issue for some reason. Not that it's related to your story but thought I'd mention it.

Chris B said...

I know Wolverine & Deadpool is relaunching issue after next (don't read it currently, but I've been keeping an eye on the relaunches by glancing at the editorials of the ones I don't get in the shops). I'd hazard a guess that Marvel Legends will relaunch when it hits issue 100 - although it was the only Collectors Edition that didn't relaunch around the time of Brand New Day/The Heroic Era three or four years back, so who knows?

It's a trend that I was hoping wasn't going to sneak over to the UK reprints, I quite liked they were reaching some big numbers, especially before Essential X-men relaunched it was closing in on 200. Used to be a badge of honour, now it seems to go un-noticed. Even in the US, some titles barely get past issue 10 without relaunching these days - Wolverine a prime candidate.

Anyway, I'm waffling. Keep up the good work Lew

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks Chris.

I've never really followed Wolverine but I'll have a look at the relaunch to see who's doing it.

I calculated that Marvel Legends won't reach the Marvel NOW! stories until later this year, after issue 100 so I think that'll be the last one to be revamped. Thing is, I think Thor, Iron Man and Cap have been publishing 18 issues a year recently in the USA so ML is likely to fall behind the other comics if they still only reprint 13 issues of each a year. I'm sure they have a plan though.

I don't really mind the renumbering in this case as the NOW! stuff is a significant revamping of most of the characters. I just hope it leads to increased orders in the shops. My local Smiths say they sell quickly as it is so I'll be interested if new readers jump on, or old ones jump off!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...