Marvel comics have been publishing since the 1960’s and their shared universe has enjoyed countless successes both in print and on screen, but starting in the 1970’s Marvel was to find a niche 3000 miles from home with the origin of Marvel UK.
Marvel UK was originally intended as a vessel for reprints of earlier american comics already printed by Marvel, which were either anglicised or censored in some way to make them more palatable to the British market. This changed in 1976 with the introduction of Captain Britain Weekly. A new anthology style magazine featuring the exploits of the eponymous Captain Britain as the main feature and then made use of reprint material from Marvel’s american back catalogue to fill the rest.
By the end of the 1970s Marvel UK had been given the go ahead to create a whole world of new characters as well as having obtained the rights to a number of classic science fiction properties (Doctor Who, Transformers and Star Wars among them) and by the end of the 1980’s Marvel UK had made the move to printing the american format of comics that has become the industry standard (the only notable exception being 2000ad and its sister publication the Judge Dredd Megazine). But it was in this era that Marvel UK created some its best properties and that what this piece is going to look at now.
Captain Britain was Marvel UK’s first attempt (and truthfully most successful attempt) at creating their own original content originally running for 39 issues Captain Britain proved both a hit with UK readers, but was later brought into the mainstream Marvel Canon becoming a member of Excalibur (along with various X-men) and serving as an Avenger, as well as having his own US title in the late 2000’s.
Deaths Head/ Deaths Head II
Deaths Head was a robot bounty hunter from the future, he featured in the Marvel UK transformers, and made appearances in Doctor Who Weekly, and was eventually given his own title which lasted 10 issues. The Character was then revamped and became Deaths Head II (whose series last 16 issues). Deaths Head has remained a fan favourite, making cameos throughout Marvel comicdom to this date, whilst Deaths Head II was seen to be unpopular and lacking the originals charm and fanbase.
Set in 8162 it follows The Claws a team of players in the mysterious game, along with their leader Dragon, as they try to win and stay ahead of the machinations of the National Union of Retired Sports Experts. Lasting 10 issues this was Marvel UK’s first attempt at a US style format of comics.
Originally Hell’s Angel, but quickly changed to Hell’s Dark Angel and then simply Dark Angel following the threat of legal action from the biker gang the Hell’s Angels (who knew bikers could be so litigious?) was a 16 issue series that highlighted the life and adventures of Shevaun Haldane Hell’s Dark Angel. In the Middle Ages, a group of sorcerers were granted immortality by Mephisto in exchange for a steady stream of sacrifices. One of these men, Ranaulph Haldane, was Shevaun’s father When Shevaun was 21 years old, Mephisto killed her father for betraying him. Shevaun then saw the Angel of Death arrive for her father. The angel placed a fragment of the universe itself within Shevaun, and gave her a suit of body armour to control her powers. She used these powers to atone for her fathers sins, and begin repaying the debts that he owed the world.
Knights of Pendragon
The Knights of Pendragon were formed to be agents of the Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The Knight is in ageless conflict with the Bane, an unnatural destructive force of warfare and winter, led by the Red Knight, the Green Knight’s adversary. The Green Knight invests power, to various groups throughout British history, to protect nature; one such group were the original Knights of the Round Table; the Knights of Pendragon are a modern-day incarnation. The Knights of Pendragon had two series (18 and 15 issues respectively) and team members of made sporadic appearances in Marvel US Titles over the last 20 years.