The venerable MWOM (Marvel's first British weekly, launched in 1972) had spent much of the seventies as a weather-worn dumping ground for Marvel's failed weeklies and sales were moribund. Stan's new man in London, Dez Skinn, decided radical surgery was the only thing to avoid cancellation.
The new Marvel Comic was an adventure weekly with only a sprinkling of superhero strips. As you'll see below, a wider range of reprints included horror (from TOMB OF DRACULA), fantasy (SKULL THE SLAYER and the inevitable CONAN THE BARBARIAN) and martial arts adventure (MASTERS OF KUNG FU) alongside THE INCREDIBLE HULK and DAREDEVIL.
To cut costs, and make the UK line more closely resemble their homegrown rivals, Skinn also pruned the page count (down to a mere 24 pages) and jettisoned the glossy covers in favour of newsprint.
To fit more material into less pages, and increase readers perception of value, Skinn took his scalpel to the original US pages and crammed more panels per page (he did the same to the similarly relaunched SPIDER-MAN COMIC but left STAR WARS WEEKLY well alone... partly because he was already struggling to find enough material to fill the existing format). Splash pages, recaps and creator credits were also done away with.
SI-6 THE SPECIALISTS was a shameless riff on LWT's popular post-watershed show THE PROFESSIONALS (the fictional CI-5) in an attempt to pass-off dated (but still excellent) MASTERS OF KUNG FU reprints.
The Green Goliath, a mainstay of MWOM since the first issue, briefly survived the changes but only to allow time for Skinn to launch the third stage of his British revolution: the launch of HULK COMIC.
I've posted the first pages of each of the strips below. I'm not familiar enough with the original material to be able to identify where the strips first appeared stateside. Can anyone help?
To emphasis the 'newness' of the MC, the issue number was dropped from the cover for the first few weeks. This would have been the 330th issue of MWOM.
The Marvel Comic incarnation wasn't a sales bonanza and - by the summer - Skinn was forced to admit defeat and rolled it into SPIDER-MAN COMIC. At the same time, he announced plans for a new monthly - MARVEL SUPERHEROES - which would (subtly at first) retain the same numbering.
Over several posts, I'll run a full cover gallery for MC as well as some other supplementary material.
* Phase 1 was an overhaul of the monthlies.
For more on the Revolution, follow these posts:
- Marvel House Ads promoting the new SPIDER-MAN COMIC and MARVEL COMIC (here).
- The history of THE MIGHTY WORLD OF MARVEL can be found here.
- The first issue of THE MIGHTY WORLD OF MARVEL, marking the launch of Marvel UK, can be found here.
- A MARVEL SUPERHEROES: A MARVEL MONTHLY cover gallery begins here.
- Dez Skinn writes about the Marvel Revolution in Bullpen Bulletins here.