Spider-Man Comics Weekly
Spider-Man Comics Weekly, the second title published by Marvel UK following a positive reaction to the debut of Mighty World of Marvel in October 1972, was launched on 17th February 1973. Spider-Man himself had already featured in the first 19 issues of MWOM and was the obvious choice to star in the fledgling British Marvel imprint's newest comic, with the Mighty Thor as his regular backup strip. Like MWOM, the comic was initially printed on cheap newsprint paper with some colour pages and some two tone pages but, also like MWOM, soon lost the colour but acquired glossy covers which it kept up until 1979 when it briefly reverted to newsprint covers again. A second backup strip, Iron Man, began in issue #50.
Name Changes and Landscape Format
From issue #158 onwards, SMCW merged with another weekly title, The Super-Heroes, which had been cancelled after 50 issues on 14th February 1976. The title was changed to 'Super Spider-Man with the Super-Heroes' and the format was changed to a 'landscape' one, with each page containing two pages of US Marvel material side by side at half their normal size in order to cram in more strips (a format also used for another weekly, The Titans). Reader reaction to this was mixed as it made the text very small and at times hard to read. Several new strips were included alongside the former three, including at various times the adventures of the original X-Men, The Invaders, Dr Strange, Tales of Asgard, Moon Knight, Marvel Two-in-One starring the Thing and Marvel Team-Up starring Spider-Man. From issue #199, with the departure of yet another weekly, the title became 'Super Spider-Man and the Titans', with Captain America and the Avengers joining the lineup; the Avengers would become one of the title's longest staying tenants. The landscape format was finally dropped with #229.
With issue #231, the title changed again, to 'Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain' (follow link), as Marvel's first short lived attempt at a title based on an original, UK based character (Captain Britain, of course) folded after 39 issues and the Captain's strip was incorporated into Spider-Man's pages along with the Fantastic Four. This was the first time the title had included any material not previously published in the US, though the Captain Britain strips (pitting the Captain against such foes as Doctor Claw, Slaymaster, the Black Baron and The Lurker from Loch Ness) were at this time not at their most memorable, with a constantly shifting creative team as whichever artist was available took it on for a few weeks. The original Captain Britain strips ended in #247, with #248-253 featuring a reprint of the two part Spider-Man and Captain Britain team up originally published in the US in Marvel Team-Up #65-66; after this, Captain Britain was dropped (replaced by Captain America) and the title became simply 'Super Spider-Man', retaining this title until issue #310.
The Marvel Revolution
With #311, dated January 24th 1979, editor Dez Skinn's 'Marvel Revolution' arrived and Spider-Man, like its stablemate The Mighty World of Marvel, underwent some changes. The title was changed to the simple but rather juvenile sounding 'Spider-Man Comic' and the glossy covers dropped, while the lineup was expanded from five to six strips so that it now included Spider-Man, Thor and the Avengers from its previous roster plus the Fantastic Four (moving over from MWOM, now renamed 'Marvel Comic'), Nova (from Rampage Weekly, which itself became a monthly) and the sea dwelling Sub Mariner. Further title changes followed as the mag first became 'Spectacular Spider-Man Weekly' with #334 (acquiring Daredevil from the now defunct Marvel Comic at the same time, but losing the Avengers in trade to Marvel Comic's new incarnation, Marvel Super-Heroes Monthly) and then 'Spider-Man and Hulk Weekly' with #376 in May 1980, as the groundbreaking Hulk Comic was cancelled and joined forces with its older sibling; the lineup now consisted of Spider-Man and the Hulk plus their female counterparts Spider-Woman (see also Spider-Woman Annual) and She-Hulk.
Later Name Changes
Spider-Man and Hulk Weekly had a fairly respectable run, latterly as the misleadingly titled 'Spider-Man and Hulk Team-Up' (which they didn't) when short lived weekly Marvel Team-Up was merged with it after 25 issues (bringing with it another backup feature, a kind of showcase slot with alternating characters) until, with #450, the Hulk was kicked out (along with all the other backup strips, for a time) so that the comic, it's glossy cover restored and now with some colour pages and some two tone pages once again, could be rebranded as 'Super Spider-Man TV Comic' in order to cash in on the short lived live action Spider-Man TV series starring Nicholas Hammond; short features on the show appeared regularly at first, but gradually tailed off along with the show's popularity. The rebranding lasted until #500, when the Hulk returned and the title became simply 'Spider-Man'. Spider-Woman moved back in with #517 on February 2nd 1983 (effectively restarting her adventures from scratch to tie-in with the arrival of her TV cartoon show in Britain) and the Fantastic Four returned in #529.
Another rebranding happened in #553 and once again, it was television related, as the mag became 'Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends' in order to tie-in with Spidey's own latest foray into the realms of TV cartoons. The comic strip adaptation of the cartoon sat uneasily alongside the web slinger's regular adventures for a time, but the title change only lasted up to issue #578 before reverting to just 'Spider-Man' again, the mag having in the meantime acquired a few new backup strips as it incorporated Thor and X-Men weekly, and later the Marvel Two-in-One strip from the short lived Big Ben weekly.
British Originated Strip
In 1984 though, Marvel UK found themselves with a potential crisis on their hands. Spider-Man weekly's target audience tended to be younger than that of the web slinger's American titles, (indeed, it had been creeping gradually downward for a few years, ever since 'Spider-Man TV Comic')and were possibly more resistant to their character being mucked about with, but Marvel US had done the unthinkable and (gasp!) changed Spider-Man's costume for a new, black and white version! As it turned out, this change was a temporary one, but with the weekly reprints now nearing that point in the continuity where the change would occur, Marvel were anxious not to potentially lose readers. Partly in order to stave off the change a little longer and partly to tie-in with a promotional stunt, an appearance by 'Spider-Man' on the Saturday morning kids TV show Saturday Starship, they commissioned a four part story by Mike Collins, Barry Kitson and Mark Farmer to run in issues #607-610, in which Spidey, following a battle with new hero Thunderclap, visited Britain and had a run-in with the cyborg lunatic Assassin-8. The story was left slightly open ended with the identity of Assassin-8's employer unrevealed, in case they wanted to resume Spidey's British adventures after reader reaction had been tested, but the experiment was not repeated. Instead, in issue #631, Marvel finally took the plunge and introduced the new look Spider-Man to Britain!
Decline and Cancellation
Three weeks later, in #634, they removed him again. The title reverted to 'Spider-Man Comic' and the long running reprints of Spidey's adventures which had continued uninterrupted since 1973 finally ended, replaced by tales for younger readers from the pages of the US title 'Spidey Super Stories', backed up by strips such as Willy the Wizard from Marvel US's Star Comics line for younger children. The adventures of 'Spider-Man proper' would continue intermittently in the pages of Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars fortnightly (and another UK exclusive Spidey strip appeared in Secret Wars #25), but the actual Spider-Man title was now on its last legs, catering exclusively to a juvenile audience and minus its glossy covers again as a cost cutting measure (though oddly still including occasional material seemingly better suited to an older readership, such as Indiana Jones and the translated European murder mystery The Tough Guys of Paris). The title was simplified to 'Spidey Comic' with #652 and finally ended with issue #666 on 14th December 1985, an ignoble end for Marvel UK's longest running weekly comic.
Spider-Man and Zoids
Spider-Man weekly was relaunched from issue #1 as Spider-Man and Zoids (Zoids being a strip based on a then popular toy line) from 3rd March 1986, and effectively continued Spidey's ongoing adventures where Secret Wars had left off, but the new title lasted only 51 issues until February 16th 1987.See individual entry
Spider-Man Summer Specials were published in 1979-1987 (the 1984 edition being a 'Spider-Man Fun Book' full of puzzles), and Winter Specials in 1979-1985. There was also a Spider-Man Holiday Special in 1992. Spider-Man Annual's were published in 1974-1986 and 1990-1992 (the first annual was released in 1974 but officially dated 1975, which continued until Granddreams took over publication in late 1979 and began dating the books the year they were released; there were, therefore, effectively two 1979 annuals) and a Spider-Man and Hulk Omnibus annual in 1983. There were also 28 issues of a digest sized Spider-Man Pocket Book published between March 1980 and July 1982 (following the Pocket Book's cancellation, the early Spider-Man stories it was then reprinting continued for a few months in the pages of The Daredevils). Subsequent Spider-Man Annuals were published by publishers other than Marvel UK, and several further fortnightly and monthly Spider-Man titles have been published by Panini, who now hold the licence to publish comics under the Marvel UK name, including Spectacular Spider-Man, which contained wholly UK originated material for a time (until Marvel's new owners, the Disney Corporation, decreed that no material featuring Marvel characters could be created outside the USA).
Comics in this volume
- Super Spider-Man with the Super-Heroes Vol 1
- Super Spider-Man and the Titans Vol 1
- Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain Vol 1
- Super Spider-Man Vol 1
- Spider-Man Comic Vol 1
- The Spectacular Spider-Man Weekly Vol 1
- Spider-Man and Hulk Weekly Vol 1
- Spider-Man and Hulk Team-Up Vol 1
- Super Spider-Man TV Comic Vol 1
- Spider-Man Vol 1
- Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends Vol 1
- Spidey Comic Vol 1
- Spider-Man and Zoids
- Spider-Man Special Vol 1
- Spider-Man Annual