Monday 10 June 2013


This is probably one of the strangest Marvel publications of the 1980s: the DC SUPER POWERS ANNUAL.  Yup, for one time only (I think!) Marvel reprinted DC's marque name characters here in the UK.

The 1985 annual, based on the DC/ Kenner toy tie-in, reprinted three DC strips.  The line-up consisted of the first chapter (more of that in a mo) of the first SUPER POWERS limited series, Superman and the Green Lantern in Between Friend and Foe (from DC COMICS PRESENTS 26) and Batman/ Hawkman in The Treasure of the Hawk God's Tomb (THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD 186).

It's a poor line-up as the the Super Powers strip ends with an obvious cliffhanger and a vague promise that the strip would be continued in the near future.  Quite where (and when) Marvel thought this would happen is something of a mystery.  If they harboured plans for a regular Super Powers comic then it would be a bit tough on readers to start the storyline on the second instalment.  And it's unlikely that readers would want to wait a whole year for a second annual (which never appeared anyway!).  All-in-all, not a great way to treat the reader!

I've posted about SUPER POWERS once before (see here) so - to summarise:
- The toys, and other pieces of merchandise, were sold in the UK.
- This was the only British edition of the Super Powers strips published in the UK, although I think the limited series were included in the monthly batch of DC books available in British newsagents.  The tie-in was also (of course) available through comic book stores.
- The TV show was - surprisingly - not shown on British TV.

The reprint was part of a deal between Marvel UK and DC to reprint selected output in Great Britain.  Quite how wide-ranging this arrangement was meant to be is unknown but - ultimately - the only other comic to emerge was the 1985 MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE SUMMER SPECIAL (see here).

Around the same time, and presumably entirely unrelated to the UK deal, Marvel and Warner Brothers entered into preliminary talks to explore the possibility of Marvel publishing DC characters under license.  Warner Brothers saw the value of the characters in other media but were less sure that they actually needed to go through the motions of publishing the comics.

The Marvel UK/ DC tie-up proved short-lived.  Whether this was the result of poor sales on the initial projects (both the Super Powers Annual and the MOTU one-shot appeared to suffer from limited distribution and are amongst the hardest to find Marvel UK publications of the eighties) or whether someone more senior in the companies nixed the deal is unclear.

The DC license was subsequently acquired by London Editions who launched regular titles reprinting Batman and Superman material.  These survived through various relaunches, and the merger of LE with Fleetway, into the nineties before eventually succumbing to poor sales.  Attempts to expand the line further, with titles like DC ACTION (see here), ZONES, SHOCKWAVE (see here) and HEROES (see here) all floundered.

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