Monday, 13 June 2016


From February 1987: the end of an era... The last issues of SPIDER-MAN AND ZOIDS and the end of a (near) continuous British run for the Web Slinger stretching back to 1972 (and, indeed, earlier).

SPIDER-MAN had, unsurprisingly, been one of the "big three" (along with the Hulk and the Fantastic Four) which launched THE MIGHTY WORLD OF MARVEL back in 1973. Six months later, he graduated to his own weekly which - through numerous title and format changes - ran for 666 issues until December 1985 (although many would say it ended when it morphed into the unloved juvenile THE SPIDER-MAN COMIC earlier in the year).

After a three-month hiatus, Spidey returned to anchor this new weekly, sharing his billing with Tomy's ZOIDS toys. A sign of the times.

SM&Z was an attractive weekly read with two strong title strips and a rotating third slot which flip-flopped between experimenting with new strips and providing a last resting place for one-time top sellers which had fallen on hard times.

However, because the contemporary Spider-man strips were readily available through imports sold in comic book stores and newsagents, the real attation was the originated Zoids strip. From humble beginnings as a promotional insert across the range, it had established itself in a brief pre-Christmas run in SECRET WARS.

The next stage of evolution was to have been to spin the strip off into its own standalone monthly which could be sold on both sides of the Atlantic. However, don't bother searching the 50p boxes for back issues... something changed at the last minute and Marvel abandoned the plan (and, presumably not coincidentally, scrapped the run of Collected Comics specials as well) leaving the completed first issue to languish in a Bullpen filing cabinet.

Such was the dire state of superhero publishing at the time that Marvel felt that a solo Spidey title simply could not survive. The cancellation of the weekly, after less than a year, not only marked the end of an era for one character but also ended, for several years, any ongoing superhero comics published by the British Bullpen. They simply no longer fitted with a publishing plan governed by licensed properties. It's telling that the anthology THE MARVEL BUMPER COMIC only occasionally flirted with superheroes and, when it did, it was to pilot the appeal of the Green Goliath ahead of the launch of THE INCREDIBLE HULK PRESENTS. That weekly lasted a mere twelve issues.

London Editions renewed their association with DC Comics and stepped in with a range of titles anchored by BATMAN and SUPERMAN. Some ran for years, some only months, but the line did enjoy reasonable success.

Marvel waited until 1990 to launch the bumper-sized four-weekly THE COMPLETE SPIDER-MAN which found its niche by cramming together the ongoing US books in a
value-for-money precursor to today's COLLECTOR'S EDITION range (launched, in the dying days of Marvel UK, in 1995).

Spider-man had made his official UK comics debut in the pages of Odham's POW weekly, beginning with the first issue, in January 1967. The strip also appeared in the dying days of TV21 towards the end of the decade.


  1. you mean spidey appeared in THE EAGLE comic from the late 60's ?

  2. I was actually thinking of the last days of TV21 so I have updated the post. I think RAWHIDE KID may have appeared in the Eagle towards the end of the original incarnation but I'm not 100% sure.

  3. Ah I see, thanks for the info and the update.

  4. spidey was indeed in one of the last issues of TV21 as you can see here even though star trek seemed to dominate every cover :


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