Monday, 15 December 2014

1985: SPIDEY COMIC Issue 666 (Marvel UK)

From (early) December 1985: the 666th (appropriately) and final issue of MARVEL UK's long-running (since 1973) SPIDER-MAN COMIC, languishing in its last incarnation as the kid-friendly SPIDEY COMIC.  An inauspicious end for a bastion of the British comics scene.

The ol' Web-slinger is even relegated to the corner box of his own last issue.  Oh the indignity.  

For many readers, the last issue of the venerable long-runner was probably issue 634 from some seven months previous.  That (somewhat slung-together) issue was the last to pitch itself at the traditional Spider-crowd.  From the following week, it became THE SPIDER-MAN COMIC with a new remit to appeal to younger readers rather than split the audience for the just-launched MARVEL SUPERHEROES SECRET WARS fortnightly.

This final name-change kicked-in from issue 651.  At the end of the run, Spidey Comic was publishing a (non-Marvel) adaptation of the Disney movie THE BLACK CAULDRON, SPIDEY SUPER STORIES ("The Vanisher Shows Up) and THE EWOKS (based on the yet-to-be-seen-in-the-UK animated series).  The festive cover (probably a little premature as this would have been on sale during the second week of December) was justified by a two-page article pegged to the impending release of the Dudley Moore vehicle SANTA CLAUS: THE MOVIE.  

The one ray of light amongst the dross was the announcement that Spider-man would return "in a few weeks" (more like three months) in a new weekly that would also feature the Fantastic Four (they had to wait a few weeks into the run to make their premiere).  No mention of the Zoids. 


  1. Spider-Man Comics Weekly ended at No.157 in February 1976 (the week before my 10th birthday as it happens) - just because the later incarnations kept the same numbering doesn't make them the same comic - the comic launched in February 1973 did NOT last for 666 issues !!!!!!

  2. I disagree, it was the same ongoing spiderman comic all through those years even if it frequently changed format and fact if you look at the cover of issue 1 of SPIDERMAN-ZOIDS, it clearly says vol 2 so the previous 666 issues were all part of one overall volume......whereas the marvel collector editions have rebooted many times and the recently cancelled STAR WARS UK COMIC ran to 7 volumes.

  3. Yes, the Collector's Editions are always restarting at No.1 with a new volume but that's just ridiculous as they are exactly the same thing as before - but the constant changes of format for Spider-Man from 1973 to 1985 were completely different comics in my opinion. When Spider-Man Comics Weekly No.157 was followed by Super Spider-Man & The Super-Heroes No.158 it was a totally different comic with a new name and in a "landscape" format - it should have been restarted at No.1 which would have made a lot more sense than the pointless reboots of today's Collector's Editions.

  4. Someone will correct me if I'm wrong but I think, in the past, longevity was seen as a bonus... both by readers and by retailers and distributors. It indicated a strong title with pedigree and a loyal following.

    Today, reboots are seen as "collectable" and therefore can spike sales with the assumption that some of the readers will stick around before sales start to spiral downwards again. The way modern Marvel and DC works, there are often handy jumping-on points for new readers every time they reboot a character... or a whole universe.

  5. For me, the first run of SPIDER-MAN is indeed 666 issues with a lot of reboots along the way. Partially because the lead strip follows one single (with a few diversions) the same continuous continuity, regardless of the format.

    If I were looking for a break point, it would be when those strips were dropped in favor of the Spidey Super Stories reprints.

    Marvel were canny, or desperate, enough to reboot the weekly every few years to take advantage of the latest printing technology (colour! Glossy paper!) or TV tie-in (TV Comic! Amazing Friends!) but it's essentially the same offering.

  6. I'm in complete agreement with slow robot so sorry colin but its 2-1 in favour of a complete volume. But it definitely went downhill after issue 634 as the uk comic no longer re-printed the current ongoing stories from the usa titles....the vol 2 quickly disappeared from the cover of SPIDERMAN-ZOIDS but its still significant....even though it had started to once more reprint the usa stories , it was hopelessly out of date by then and its cancellation was the final nail in spidey's coffin.

    So just again for the record, an amazing run for a uk comic much like the recently axed star wars comic.


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