Wednesday 14 June 2017


From late 1996 (with a January 1997 cover date): THE ADVENTURES OF SNAKE PLISSKEN, another 'non-core' (IE non-STAR TREK) offering from the MARVEL PRESENTS PARAMOUNT COMICS imprint.

It was, of course, a spin-off from ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK and the belated 1996 follow-up ESCAPE FROM L.A.

This was another one-shot.  The line was active from 1996-98 before ending during the Marvel bankruptcy.  Management probably decided that the benefits of being allied to a major studio (they were probably hoping that paramount would eventually step in and buy the publisher) wasn't sufficient compared to soft sales and high licensing costs at a time when Marvel were scalling back their output and their bloated cost base, alongside selling (sometimes at knockdown prices) parts of the over-extended business.

The core of the MPPC line were the various STAR TREK titles, unifying a franchise that had previously been split between DC Comics (Star Trek and STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION) and (now Marvel owned) Malibu Comics (DS9 and Voyager, although it never appeared under their banner).  Marvel kick-started things with an X-Men crossover (this was a time when such stunts still created a 'huh?' reaction) and then ploughed forward with a whole bunch of ongoing Trek books.  Amongst the least obvious: THE EARLY VOYAGES (starring the crew from the unsold pilot 'The Cage'); UNTOLD VOYAGES (filling in that murky period after ST: TMP) and STARFLEET ACADEMY.  VOYAGER and DEEP SPACE NINE had their own ongoing series but TOS and TNG were shoehorned into a bumper-length UNLIMITED book.  Various one-shots helped pad out the schedule.

The line ran into trouble pretty quick, probably partly because Marvel had flooded a weak market with too much product.  Trek had been a good - but not great - seller for its previous publishers and there is no reason to think that more franchise fans would have started buying the Marvel version.  Marvel's cash-strapped status also made it far less willing to support 'vanity' projects that it didn't own outright and couldn't bank all the cash. Some of the more marginal titles were shuttered after fairly short runs and replacements didn't appear.

Another problem, perennial with licensed titles, was getting studio sign-off promptly enough to stick to a publishing schedule.  The biggest problems lay with the shows that were still in production because they still had active creative teams working on the lot.  Marvel's solution was to close the ongoing DS9 and Voyager books and replace them with a series of back-to-back mini-series which could be planned and prepared further in advance of press dates to build in a bigger contingency for West Coast delays.

Plan B didn't have time to play out before Marvel ditched the line completely.  The last titles of ongoing books to appear had June (Early Voyages, Starfleet Academy) or July 1998 (Unlimited) cover dates.  Starfleet Academy, at 19 issues, was the longest-lived of the line numerically.  

The end of the line, and the state of the market, meant that Marvel didn't get any trade paperback collections out the door.  IDW have reissued some material in book form but the bulk - at the moment - have never been reprinted.  The current series of hardback reprints will - one assumes - get to this stuff eventually (they've done an Early Voyages edition thus far) but they have been much more willing to publish recent IDW series (probably because they are technically of a higher standard and require less production work to ready them for print) than dip into the DC or MPPC vaults.

Probably the line's greatest claim-to-fame? Publishing an issue of DS9 in Klingon.  With an English 'translation' also available.  Make sure you buy the right copy when diving into the 50p bins!

Like the previous MIGHTY HEROES post, Snake Plissken was a MPPC title that I had no idea even existed until I stumbled across a copy in a 50p box.

1 comment:

  1. I had no idea it existed either, some very offbeat titles in that line.

    out today : a making of book on the tv show ORPHAN BLACK

    SFX have published a second edition of their SCI-FI HANDBOOK with a new cover but I'm not sure how much new material.


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