The Mighty World of Marvel UK

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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  

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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 

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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.

Dragons Claws

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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.

Dark Angel

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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

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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.

30 Comics To Read Before You’re 30 Part Two

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In part one we looked at a whole host of comics for you to sink your teeth into,

Annihilation 

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Marvels first big cosmic event that didn’t have the words infinity in the title. What happens when a host of bugs annihilates the universe, a rag tag band of the heroes and villains from across the universe comes together to  save the universe from annihilation.

Judge Dredd Complete Case files Volume One

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A look at the early cases of the lawman of the future. Feel the thrill power build as you meet Judge Dredd and the world in which he lives. Read my review here.

Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes 

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The first instalment of Neil Gaiman’s saga of the king of dreams and how his being impacts those both in dreams and in the waking world. Read my review here.

Project Superpowers 

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Take a great deal of superheroes from the public domain and then put them all together to form a super team, there you have Project Super Powers.

X-Men Messiah Complex

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Mutants are dying out, they’re an endangered species, and then suddenly a new mutant is born, and then all hell breaks loose.

Nikolai Dante Too Cool To Kill

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A Russian rogue, realises hes Romanov Royalty… in the future. This entitles him to some pretty cool weapons tech and puts him right at the heart of a lifestyle of immense intrigue and opulent luxury, all wrapped up in a sleazy charm and vodka soaked allurement. Read my review here.

Captain Atom: Armageddon 

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DC’s attempt at making its Wildstorm property more accessible to readers of its mainstream DC stuff, by taking a DC hero and throwing them into the deep end of the Wildstorm universe, just before it was rebooted.

Green Hornet Year One

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A look at the first year of operations of the Green Hornet and his faithful manservant Kato as they route out crime and corruption whilst posing as the criminals themselves.

The Eternals

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Forgotten heroes, erased from time, woken by the call of one of their own, Old heroes reimagined for the modern marvel universe all from the pen of legendary author Neil Gaiman and drawn by the equally legendary John Romita Jr.

Scarlet Traces

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The sequel to H G Well’s War Of The Worlds which sees the British Empire flourishing all with the help of reverse engineered Martian War Machines. Read my review here. 

Join again tomorrow for part three of the 30 comic books and series that you should check out before you become 30 years old

 

The Worst Avengers Villains

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With A New Avengers film coming out this week I’ve decided to dedicate a few blog posts to Marvels Flagship Team. Today, here is a look at some of the worst villains that Avengers that there have ever been pitted against.

Awesome Android 

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Egghead

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Psyklop

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Dragon Man

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Living Laser 

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Film Review: Guardians Of The Galaxy 2

I wanted to like it, I really did, I loved the first one and more importantly I loved the comics in fact the modern incarnation of the Guardians of the Galaxy is one of my favourite series from modern comicdom. But I didn’t like this film, mainly as it really ignored the comics.

It just felt like a soap opera in space, and not even the sort of polished american soap operas, I’m talking full on eastenders in space. And not even the Awesome soundtrack or cuteness that is baby Groot could do anything to save this film. The acting was lackluster at best, I know not to expect Shakespearean quality from a Marvel film, but I still expect actors to not be either rigid or over the top.

Awful awful film, why it made it on to the 30 films I want to watch before I’m 30 I will never know.

Comic Review: Miracleman A Dream of Flying

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Miracleman (originally Marvelman) was a British Hero from the 1950’s that never really made much of an impact on any classic level, then in the 1980’s the then legend in the making Alan Moore (of Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Batman the Killing Joke fame) reinvented the character for the modern age, twisting his origins and back story to suit his own narrative Alan more took this character from obscurity and made them into a comic book legend.

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I think this is in part owing to the complicated legal history of the property which has, until recently, made reprinting, and thus obtaining a copy of the original very difficult and very costly, until the rights finally wound up with Marvel Comics and as they spied a good money spinner they reprinted the series as set of hardback comics, and a vague promise that the series would finally be continued as the it was halted mid story with issue 24.

Any way marvel have given us in this volume the first four issues of their reprinted version scripted by Alan Moore (credited as “The Original Writer”) and what may possibly be the best comic art I have ever seen provided by Garry Leach and Alan Davis.

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The story begins with the Last adventure of the Miracleman Family before they disappear from the world before moving on 20 years and dealing with Miracleman’s reawakening and the consequences that brings, the effects it has on Mike Moran’s (Miracleman’s alter ego)’s family life, and how the Miracleman Family came to be.

You can tell this is some of Alan Moore’s early work and is written in what I’ve come to dub the Pre Crisis Style ( alluding to DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths and what I personally see as the end of the old school way of writing comics), that is to say, very heavy on the interlinking exposition text, and while it is beautifully written it doesn’t let the art do its job, which is telling the story, it feels like the text is competing with the art, and this is a pity because it is some of the best comic art I have ever come across.

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The story itself is ok, it isn’t great, it engages, but it doesn’t really grab you the way that it should, and this could possibly be because there is no way that the story could live up to the hype of the comic that no one could read for several decades. I will probably pick up the other 3 volumes of the series, just on the hopes that it does start to pick up, but I do think it will probably be a case of not living up to the way in which its been built up in peoples minds over the past 30 or so years.