MARVEL UK

SUPER SPIDER-MAN
AND CAPTAIN BRITAIN

#244

(WEEK ENDING OCTOBER 12 1977)


Launched in September 1972, Marvel's very own UK imprint (commonly known and referred to as Marvel UK) enjoyed an immediate success, producing a steadily growing number of titles which reprinted US material following the standard 1970s UK comic book market format of weekly publication and black and white printing.

Following up on the first (and flagship) title Mighty World of Marvel, the most successful and best loved superhero from the House of Ideas, the Amazing Spider-Man, was given his own weekly title in February 1973: Spider-Man Comics Weekly.

 
It would ultimately become one of the longest running UK Marvel comic books ever, clocking up an impressive 666 issues over a 12 year publication run up until 1985 - a fact somewhat obscured by no less than 10 title changes along the way. The first of these occured in February 1976 when Spider-Man Comics Weekly became Super Spider-Man with the Super-Heroes as of issue #158 - essentially the result of merging the successful Spider-Man Comics Weekly with the somewhat less successful weekly Super-Heroes, which had been launched in March 1975. With the British economy sliding into deep recession in 1976, such mergers and the resulting composite titles almost became a trademark survival strategy for Marvel UK's weeklies as they braved the harsh market conditions of the mid-1970s. Super Spider-Man with the Super-Heroes became Super Spider-Man and the Titans in October 1976, before the cancellation of Captain Britain's own weekly changed its title to Super Spider-Man & Captain Britain in July 1977.

So let's thumb through the 36 pages of Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain #244, which went on sale the week ending October 12th 1977.

 

 

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN
"Enter: Will-O'-The-Wisp!"

Originally published in Amazing Spider-Man #167 (April 1977)
Original title: "...Stalked by the Spider-Slayer!"

Script - Len Wein
Pencils - Ross Andru (breakdowns), Mike Esposito (finished art)
Inks - Mike Esposito
Lettering - Joe Rosen

Original page count: 17
Reprinted pages: 8 (plus UK splashpage)

Ever since the launch of Marvel UK, readers were used to having several characters and storylines feature in one title. As a consequence, the individual installments per issue could be as short as five or six pages, but the weekly publication schedule didn't really make the stories any harder to follow than e.g. with the monthly pause between two US originals. By 1977, the segmentation this created commonly resulted in an original issue of Amazing Spider-Man being more or less halved and published over two UK issues - which in return required a custom made splashpage for every other issue of Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain, which was also the case for this issue.

During the early years of Marvel UK these extra splashpages (which often also served to bring readers back up to speed as to "the story so far") were often made simply by blowing up a single panel from the final page published in the previous issue and adding a title, creators credits and exposition text or additional word balloons. Since the mid-1970s, however, these extra splashpages were being produced from scratch by various artists, although the artwork in many cases remained inspired by the original panel artwork used in the preceding issue. The splashpage of Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain #244 is such an example, where the setup of last week's penultimate panel was used and Spider-Man's posture almost (but not quite) swiped while the Spider-Slayer was portrayed more prominently (thus also serving to get readers back into the overall storyline). A number of artists working out of the New York City offices of Marvel Comics were involved in this production and regularly assigned to the House of Ideas' "British Department":

 


Amazing Spider-Man #167
(German reprint version, 2006)

 

"Larrupin' Larry Lieber (...) has also come aboard to handle the issues which we produce for an ever-growing army of Marvel fanatics in Great Britain. Wouldja believe they're on sale weekly over there; so we're bettin' that Larry'll be kinda busy." (Stan's Soapbox, September 1977 Bullpen Bulletins, Marvel [US] Comics)

Stan Lee's brother had, in fact, already been quite busy for Marvel UK before taking on the job as editor, often pencilling covers and other material together with Frank Giacoia.

 


Amazing Spider-Man #167

  The splashpage produced for Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain #244 thus precedes pages 10-17 of Amazing Spider-Man #167, the story of which centers around yet another incarnation of J. Jonah Jameson's "Spider-Slayer" robot.

The publisher and editor-in-chief of the Daily Bugle (and number one hater of Spider-Man) first had a robot built for himself in Amazing Spider-Man #25 (June 1965) in order to try to hunt down and capture the friendly neighbourhood webcrawler via remote control.

The Spider-Slayer featured in Amazing Spider-Man #167 was already the Mark V, which unlike previous models was controlled through mental commands transmitted through a special helmet worn by Jameson. As a result, Spider-Man findes that this version of the Slayer not only has far better reaction times than previous models but that he is also up against super-strength, a web-shooter, plus a laser-cannon shooting "impulse beams".

 
But even more threatening is Jameson's talk about having bulletproof evidence as to who exactly Spider-Man is - something Peter Parker / Spider-Man simply can't ignore. However, trying to get to the bottom of this and then dig up and get hold of this information which Jameson supposedly has, Spidey runs across the strange density manipulating powers of Will-o'-the-Wisp.
 
A former employee at Roxxon Oil, Jackson Arvad worked as a scientist in the company's electromagnetic research division. Forced to devote more hours to his work than is healthy by a grueling boss, Arvad eventually ended up falling asleep, and a subsequent accident in the laboratory exposed him to the electromagnetic field of a device he was working on.

As a result, the electromagnetic binding of molecules in his body decreased and Arvad found he was now able to actually control this process, empowering him to change his body matter from anything between intangible or rock hard. At higher densities, Will-o'-the-Wisp has superhuman strength, speed and durability, while at lower densities he can fly. This is when he appears to be nothing more than a glowing sphere. One important power is his ability to virtually "freeze up" people for a short period of time.

Created by Len Wein and Ross Andru together with Mike Esposito, Amazing Spider-Man #167 was the first appearance of Will-o'-the-Wisp - a term made up from "wisp" (i.e. a bundle of sticks or paper sometimes used as a torch) and the name "Will". The expression has a smilar meaning to Jack-o'-Lantern ("Jack of [the] lantern") and was frequentlly used until the late 19th century to describe an atmospheric "ghost light" seen by travellers at night, especially over bogs, swamps or marshes. It resembles a flickering lamp and is said to recede if approached, drawing travellers from the safe paths (the scientific explanation for the phenomenon lies in the decay of organic matter which can set free methane and phosphane which can spontaneously ignite on contact with the oxygen in air).

So at the end of this story, Spider-Man finds himself between a rock and a hard place as he is mesmerized by Will-o'-the-Whisp just as Jameson's Spider-Slayer re-enters the scene...

As the final page reprinted in Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain #244 was also the last page of Amazing Spider-Man #167, no editorial adjustements were necessary as the page could simply be reprinted one to one (quite unlike, of course, any non-English language reprints, such as the example shown here from a 2006 German reprint version).

Spider-Man was just as popular in the UK as he was in the US at the time, but this popularity proved to be a two-edged sword for Marvel UK. On the one hand, it meant solid sales for any comic book that had Spider-Man in its title. On the other hand it also meant that Marvel UK had to start thinking hard about where it would get sufficient original Spidey material from.

The problem really was quite simple: the weekly publication schedule meant that Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain was catching up with the original material at a fairly consistent rate of two to one each month, i.e. reprinting two entire issues of the monthly US Amazing Spider-Man every month.

 

 
When Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain #244 was published, the gap had narrowed down dangerously to a mere nine months (Amazing Spider-Man #167 had a cover date of April 1977 but was actually published in the US in January 1977). In the past, Marvel UK had counteracted this by reprinting material from Peter Parker Spectacular Spider-Man as well as Marvel Team-Up, but the overall situation remained uncomfortable and no doubt a constant source of headaches for the editorial team.
 

 

CAPTAIN BRITAIN
"Dogfight with Death!"

Original publication
(Super Spider-Man & Captain Britain #244 - October 1977)

Script - Jim Lawrence
Pencils - Ron Wilson
Inks - Fred Kida
Lettering - Irv Wattanabe
Editor - Larry Lieber

Page count: 7

Inspite of the frequent custom-made covers and splash pages that featured in its weeklies, Marvel UK was all about reprinting US material. However, there were a few exceptions here and there, and Captain Britain was certainly the most important and to this day best known original Marvel creation for the British market.

 

 
The launch took place after the powers in charge at the House of Ideas had reached the conclusion that the time was right for some original content within Marvel UK's line and turned out a character whose name said it all - with more than obvious parallelisms to Captain America.
 


Back cover advertising for Captain Britain #1 from Mighty World of Marvel #210

  Captain Britain #1 hit the newsagent stands on 13 October 1976 ("for the first time in any comic - Britain's own superhero"), featuring an eight page colour story titled "The origin of Captain Britain" penned by Chris Claremont, drawn by Herb Trimpe, inked by Fred Kida, and - yes indeed - coloured by Marie Severin. The editorial shout-outs just prior to the launch were highly enthusiastic to say the least:

"Next week is it, folks! (...) the week of the newest, greatest sensation from the fabulous House of Ideas, Captain Britain!! We've hinted at it over the past few weeks, but we've not even come close to the excitement that awaits you in the latest, greatest British Weekly!! Not only do we have a brand-new, never-before-seen feature in the book (namely one Captain Britain), but we also have - colour (...) 'cause we want ya to get the full impact of this new Claremont / Trimpe / Kida creation!"

Colour had been a wish expressed in many fan letters ever since Marvel UK launched its first weeklies, and it would initially secure good sales figures for Captain Britain. However, the novelty attraction wore off fairly soon as the overall quality of the CB material left many readers rather disappointed, and as a consequence the title lost its (expensive) privilege to colour as of issue #24 in March 1977 and would be cancelled after just 39 weekly issues in July 1977.

 
This was partly due to the fact that the main artistic team of this first original British Marvel material had a rather low-level linkage to the UK (Chris Claremont was a US citizen born in London, and Herb Trimpe had once spent a holiday in Britain). Although they tried hard to infuse as much Britishness as possible into the title (including British spelling variants being observed), many fairly obvious mistakes could be spotted e.g. in British police uniform design or the City of London's general geography. At the end of the day, Captain Britain was thus a purely American view of what a British superhero should look and be like, and unfortunately, the individual artists involved were unable to connect to this foreign setting and plot enough to make it work.

Claremont continued to script the adventures of Captain Britain for the first ten issues before Gary Friedrich took over with Captain Britain #11 (22 December 1976), joined by Larry Lieber as co-writer as of issue #24. Friedrich quit after Captain Britain #36 (15 June 1977), and left Lieber, Bob Budiansky and Jim Lawrence to pen the final three issues before the title was cancelled. The artwork was entrusted to Trimpe before John Buscema took over together with inker Tom Palmer as of Captain Britain #24 (23 March 1977) before passing on the job to Ron Wilson with issue #31 (11 May 1977), inked by Fred Kida, Pablo Marcos and Brian Moore.

 
In spite of a few nice touches (such as having real-life Prime Minister James Callaghan being informed by Nick Fury of a Nazi plan by the Red Skull to take over Great Britain in Captain Britain #17) both the plot and the artwork of Captain Britain generally seem rather lacklustre and lukewarm with very little to spark real enthusiasm amongst readers - which hardly comes as a surprise considering Herb Trimpe's point of view expressed in an interview ("I thought [Captain Britain] was a really stupid idea, but there was a paycheck in it...").

Following the cancellation of his own book, Captain Britain was moved to the Spider-Man weekly (which accordingly became Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain) where he continued to act out mostly ludicrous plots and storylines - of which "Dogfight with Death!" is a case in point.

 
 
When Captain Britain faces the evil Slaymaster he discovers that this villain is stealing valuable collectables from a number of victims, and tracks him down to comic collector Waxman's "Wax Museum of Superheroes" where Slaymaster has just murdered Waxman while in the guise of a wax copy of "Electro-Man".
 
 

Much as readers may have been able to relate to the villain's booty ("most prized by comic book fans throughout the world"), seeing him standing in front of a strongroom with a massive pile of comic books inside while proclaiming "now to find the one and only mint edition" must have made them wondering just how much time the criminal had reckoned he would have to spend until he actually found what he came to steal... but then the question was of an academic nature, as Captain Britain (who is physics student Brian Braddock when he is off-duty) bursts onto the scene - only to be disarmed immediately before the cliffhanger ending for this issue.

It was possibly the fact that these seven page installments were written as such (and not cut-up segments of a longer original storyline) which generally made them feel very rushed and disconnected. Ron Wilson's pencils often were the only thread that kept it all from falling apart - which, nevertheless, it ultimately did.

 
After lasting a mere 22 issues, Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain #253 brought about the final end of Captain Britain in December 1977. The weekly went back to being simply Super Spider-Man, and Britain's very own superhero would not be seen for some time.
 

 

THE MIGHTY AVENGERS
"The Swordman's Secret!"

Originally published in Mighty Avengers #121 (March 1974)
Original title: "Houses Divided Cannot Stand!"

Script - Steve Englehart
Pencils - John Buscema (layouts), Done Heck (finished art)
Inks - Don Heck
Lettering - John Costanza

Total page count: 19
Reprinted pages: 8 (plus UK splashpage)

The Mighty Avengers were introduced to the ranks of Marvel UK in August 1973 in the pages of Mighty World of Marvel #46, starting out with the classic Stan Lee & Jack Kirby origin tale from Avengers #1, and almost immediately moved on to their own weekly title in September 1973. But as the British comic book market was hit hard by the failing UK economy in the mid-1970s, even Earth's Mightiest Heroes became victims of Marvel UK's pruning and downsizing of its portfolio of weeklies - and as a result lost their own title in July 1976 after 148 issues and found themselves back where they had started: in the pages of Mighty World of Marvel.

 

 
This arrangement, however, was not to last very long, as the Avengers only guest-starred for 13 issues of Mighty World of Marvel before being transferred to the pages of The Titans, which itself would merge with Spidey's weekly and become Super Spider-Man and the Titans in December 1976.
 

  One merger later, the weekly which hosted the Avengers became Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain, illustrating just how thin the line between enjoyable diversity and chaotic discontinuity in Marvel UK's weeklies had become by mid-1977. On the up side, however, editorial always did an excellent job in ensuring that the continuity of a series was picked up exactly where it had left off prior to a change of title due to cancellation or mergers.

The Avengers always had a solid fan base amongst Marvel UK's 1970's readership, but they never quite reached the level of popularity enjoyed by Spider-Man and the Hulk. As a result, they always survived the cut & paste strategy of Marvel UK's numerous cancellations and mergers of weekly titles but tended to be moved around often.

Unfortunately, as their weekly page count decreased from once being a full US issue reprint (in the early issues of their own title) to an average of around 6-8 pages, the complexity of their storylines increased as Roy Thomas and subsequently Steve Englehart had truly probed the group dynamics of the Avengers and set them up against opponents which were far removed from the simple superhero versus supervillain template.

"The Swordman's Secret" is a point in case. It reprints pages 9 through 16 of Mighty Avengers #121, which in itself was only part two of a three-issue story arc which has the Zodiac crime cartel attempting to take over the world. The Avengers manage to fight off the Zodiac's initial attack on Avengers Mansion, but the conflict rages on and the upper hand keeps on changing sides. Even though not a hugely intricate plot to follow, the serialisation over weekly installments of 8 or so pages could at times make stories such as this one a tad hard to follow. In comparison, pushing the pause button (i.e. somewhere in the page count of an original US issue) was a piece of cake for Marvel UK editorial as they would simply insert a text box at the bottom of the original panel reading "CONTINUED NEXT ISSUE!", even though this did sometimes call for some minor modification, as can be seen in this example, where the Zodiac starship had to be moved upwards so it would not be covered by the editorial textbox.

 
"The Swordman's Secret" presented entirely new material for UK readers, as Mighty Avengers #121 was the first US Avengers issue which had not been distributed to the UK in early 1974 as part of the British pence price cover print run destined for export to the UK.
 

 

THE FANTASTIC FOUR
"Together Again for the First Time!"

Originally published in Fantastic Four #132 (March 1973)

Script - Roy Thomas
Pencils - John Buscema
Inks - Joe Sinnott
Lettering - John Costanza

Total page count: 20
Reprinted pages: 4 (plus UK splashpage)
Original title: "Omega the Ultimate Enemy"

The oldest material featured in Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain #244 was also its shortest installment. At a mere four pages, the wrap-up to the original story from Fantastic Four #132 from March 1973, in which Medusa gets an FF uniform, the Torch changes from blue to red costume (an effect somewhat lost in Marvel UK's black & white reprint), and Crystal snubs the Torch for Quicksilver, almost had the quality of an epilogue. But then again, this was exactly what it was, as this was to be the final appearance of Mr Fantastic, the Invisible Girl, the Human Torch and the Thing in the pages of the Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain weekly.

The Fantastic Four in many ways shared the status and fate of the Avengers during Marvel UK's 1970's reprint run. Although featured in the line-up right from the beginning (Mighty World of Marvel #1, September 1972), British readers somehow never warmed up to Marvel's original team of superheroes the way they did with Spider-Man and the Hulk. Although popular up to a certain point, the Fantastic Four had not seen a transfer to their own title book up until October 1977. Instead, they had been moved to The Titans as of issue #27 in March 1976 before featuring as a black & white back-up in Captain Britain as of the first issue (October 1976). When that weekly was cancelled in July 1977 the Fantastic Four joined Captain Britain in his move to the newly merged Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain weekly.

Although they had enjoyed star billing on several covers (mostly so during their run in The Titans), they had never truly been a front row feature. However, that was about to change, as readers would discover at the end of those mere four pages of story - which were introduced by a splashpage which illustrates nicely how Marvel staff artists in New York turned to the original material (in this case a story panel from Fantastic Four #132) for inspiration but never produced a 1:1 swipe.

 

 
The added embellishment is what often made the UK reprint material stand out and which was to a large extent responsible for the charm of the weeklies which even worked on seasoned readers who knew the original material. This particular splashpage, however, is special in a very different sense. The aforementioned staff artists very rarely signed their work, and the almost complete absence of such markings makes it seem likely that Marvel in NYC had a policy in place to that effect. If that was the case, then the FF splashpage for Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain #244 somehow slipped through as it has HB&ME77 marked next to the credits.
 
 
The initials stand for Howard Bender and Mike Esposito. Bender (*1951) worked as penciller, inker, colourist and letterer for both Marvel and DC in the 1970s, with most of his work for Marvel UK being as penciller for the Star Wars weekly as well as providing splashpages for some superhero weeklies. Esposito (1927 - 2010) was a prolific comic book artist best known for his inking on major Marvel and DC titles throughout the Silver and Bronze Age; he became involved in artwork produced for Marvel UK very early on and received editorial shout-outs now and then:

"Adorable ED HANNIGAN and Mischievous MIKE ESPOSITO, long time workers on these books, have been teaming up on covers drawn especially for the British editions of THE PLANET OF THE APES!" (Bullpen Bulletin published in The Avengers (UK) #61, 16 November 1974)

Turning to the last of the four pages of the FF installment, readers found out that the next issue of Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain would feature the Mighty Thor rather than the team from the Baxter Building. So which weekly would the FF be moved to?

Somewhat surprisingly (given the succession of cancellations and mergers over the previous 12 months), Marvel UK was adding a new weekly to its fold - and the FF finally made it to their own title. The Complete Fantastic Four (which first appeared at newsagents on 28 September 1977 and thus displayed some publication overlap, given that Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain #244 was published the week ending 12 October 1977) may have had a slightly strange ring to its title, but the "Complete" referred to the fact that, quite unlike the established formula for Marvel's British reprints, this weekly contained only FF material.

 

 


Complete Fantastic Four
#1 (28 September 1977)

Complete Fantastic Four #1 featured the reprint of the entire US Fantastic Four #133 (April 1973) and a part of US Fantastic Four #1 (November 1961), and the following issues would continue from here with complete issue reprints of the more recent material (i.e. Fantastic Four #134 in Complete Fantastic Four #2) and serialized installments over three issues from the classic Silver Age FF books (i.e. Fantastic Four #1 spread out over Complete Fantastic Four #1-3).

 
The alteration necessary to the original final panel from Fantastic Four #132 in order to fit the announcement was a straightforward and easy task. The comparison, however, also shows how very often the black and white reprint would come out rather "flat"; originally, greytones had been added to the Marvel UK material to counteract this effect, but the process obviously became too tedious and, above all, too costly.

As for the Fantastic Four, the pressure on the superhero weeklies remained high, and the almost inevitable cancellation took place in June 1978 when Complete Fantastic Four ceased to appear at the newsagents after 37 issues - to a large part also a victim of its publication formula which, due to full US issue length reprints, ate up over three years of US publication output in less than a year alone.

The Fantastic Four were duly transferred back to Mighty World of Marvel as of issue #298 (14 June 1978) in the established tradition of previous mergers and cancellations, and when the end of an era came about and Marvel UK's flagship title Mighty World of Marvel was itself cancelled following issue #329 in January 1979, the FF once again moved - this time to Spider-Man Comic #311 (24 January 1979).

 

 
In 1977, Neil Tennant (*1954) was still editor-in-chief of the British wing of Marvel UK, having joined in 1975 and "not earning very much money" [1], which may have been the reason for him to soon leave his post after Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain #244 - and to ultimately find fame and, most certainly, more money than he earned at Marvel UK as one of the two Pet Shop Boys.
 
 
Marvel UK had always operated out of London (first based at 120 Newgate Street EC1 and then, as of late 1974, at 52 High Holborn WC1) but in December 1976 moved to Tubs Hill House in Sevenoaks, Kent. In true Stan Lee style, the various editorial announcements made on this topic were picture book hyperbole ("no longer does the British bullpen battle brilliantly in London's High Holborn ... will Sevenoaks survive?") but never really gave an actual explanation or reason for the move - which, it is to be assumed, were of a purely financial nature.

Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain #244 featured one page of letters thus sent to Sevenoaks by readers, and as usual, the topics touched upon were rather varied and diverse. Whilst one reader was enquiring about the requirements needed to be met in order to qualify as a KOF ("Keeper of the Flame"), another informed editorial (and hence also all readers of this issue) about Marvel merchandise toys available in the shops, and a third claimed a "No-Prize" (which he got) for having spotted an editorial blunder. Perhaps most interesting, however, is the fourth letter, in which Paul Ollis from Bristol voiced his opinion that Marvel UK could very well print an entire US Spider-Man issue each week as there were so many titles in the US featuring the friendly neighbourhood webcrawler.

Editorial pointed out ("we wish you were right, Paul, but unfortunately you're not") that some of the titles listed were either aimed at very young kids (Spidey Super Stories) or itself a reprint title (Marvel Tales), and that others had already been exhaustively used (Marvel Team-Up).

The real problem, of course, pointed in the exact opposite direction - if anything, Marvel UK needed to reprint less. The situation was obvious to those who understood the American comic book market: if you have eighteen to twenty original pages a month and you reprint those on a weekly basis, you are going to catch up with the original material at an alarming speed, and reprinting entire issues (as in the first year of Spider-Man Weekly and then for a while in Super Spider-Man with the Super-Heroes) only meant that Marvel UK would catch up with and then run out of original material fast.

Another subject brought up regularly by readers was the demand for colour. While this obviously was no option for the weeklies, annuals could satisfy that request by featuring "62 pages in full colour". The three 1978 annuals advertised here were published for Marvel UK by Fleetway (a joint venture first undertaken in 1977 and which would be replicated once more, in 1979).

 
 
And if Complete Fantastic Four had been a surprise, then how about another new weekly being launched by Marvel UK? Rampage #1 hit the newsagent stands on 19 October 1977, and its subtitle explained to a large extent what the new book was all about: "starring the Daring Defenders" - plus "the power-packed adventures of the man called Nova".
 

  Taking up the same publishing format launched with Complete Fantastic Four, Rampage featured the reprint of a complete US Defenders issue every week (whilst Nova remained serialized). The book was aimed outright at cashing in further on the popularity of the Hulk, which was on a par with the success enjoyed in Britain by Spider-Man, whilst at the same time re-introducing well known and liked characters such as Dr Strange and the Sub-Mariner as members of this "non-team".

Rampage was only a minor success, lasting for 34 issues before being cancelled, again together with Complete Fantastic Four, in June 1978. In contrast to the usual Marvel UK tradition of merging and swapping features around, however, the title reappeared immediately as a monthly magazine - Rampage Monthly - in July 1978.

Just like Marvel's US range of magazine-format black and white publications, the painted covers of Rampage Monthly promised content aimed at a more adult readership - in the case of Rampage Monthly, however, the covers belied the contents, which continued the reprints from the weekly with the Defenders and Nova (a character specifically aimed at pre-teen readers) as backups.

Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain #244 featured two third-party adverts, one being the almost traditional comic strip format for a plastic kit (in this case from the classic brand of Airfix) of a Ju87b "Stuka" - which followed the long standing but still hugely popular war comics such as Commando or Battle Picture Library to a T: the German pilots of the Stuka bombers were named Otto, Karl and Fritz, exclaiming "Ze airfield is down below, ve are now over target" and muttering the par for the course (but grammatically incorrect) "Gott in Himmel". The Airfix ad may have shown them lay waste to RAF Tangmere, but readers knew beyond a doubt that these sky bandits would ultimately meet their fate in the crosshairs of a few Spitfires - also, naturally, available from Airfix.

The other advertiser (whose ad was printed in lush colours on the outside back cover) was a company selling "life size" superhero figures (of which three were actually of DC vintage).

The front cover - also in glorious colour and often serving as an advertisement board for the comic - takes up one element from the cover of Amazing Spider-Man #167 which John Romita Sr. designed with three distinct elements.

 
  Again, it is easy to see how the assigned staff artists would often work from existing original artwork but rather produce a new interpretation rather than just a clean swipe or even a photostat.

The result is a cover just as interesting and as vibrant as the original - which worked so well it was used by various international publishers, e.g. from left to right below:

  • Panini (German edition, Amazing Spider-Man #167, 2006)
  • Editoriale Corno (Italian edition, L'uomo Ragno #234, 1979)
  • Novedades (Spanish edition for Mexico, El Asombroso Hombre Araa #163, 1983)
 
 
 
 
NOTES

[1] "Profile on Neil Tennant", petshopboys.net

 

 

 

Uploaded to the web 20 July 2016

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