The Mighty World of Marvel, launched on October 7th 1972, was the first title to be published by Marvel UK, the British subdivision of US comics giant Marvel Comics. Marvel had previously licensed strips to be reprinted in the UK by other publishers including Alan Class Publishing and Odhams, but now felt the time was right to break into the potentially lucrative UK market themselves. Like most British comics of the time, MWOM was a weekly, and was primarily black & white with some full colour and some part colour pages. All the material included was reprinted from US titles published around a decade earlier, with the opening lineup including Spider-Man, the Hulk and the Fantastic Four. Spider-Man proved popular enough that after only 19 issues he was removed from the pages of MWOM and awarded his own title, Spider-Man Comics Weekly, which he shared with the Mighty Thor; the Hulk and the Fantastic Four remained in place in MWOM, with Spider-Man's former slot being taken by blind superhero Daredevil; though the lineup would vary over the years, the Hulk remained MWOM's lead feature in every issue until shortly after its eventual relaunch as Marvel Comic in 1979, when he was given his own title. Daredevil, too, aside from a brief break between issues #33 and #68, remained with the title until its final weekly issue. Other characters to appear in the title in its first few years included The Avengers (who were given their own weekly title soon after their debut in MWOM #46-48), the X-Men and Luke Cage, Hero for Hire. The Avengers (and backup strip Conan the Barbarian) eventually returned to MWOM with issue #199 following the cancellation of the Avengers weekly after 147 issues (they subsequently moved into new weekly The Titans before settling in for a lengthy run in the pages of Spider-Man).
From issue #133, MWOM absorbed the lead strip from the Planet of the Apes weekly, a strange combination which nonetheless worked quite well. Later, other titles would also be absorbed into MWOM's pages; Complete Fantastic Four, Fury and Dracula Lives...that last one being a bit of an oddity, as Dracula Lives had actually been cancelled and merged with Planet of the Apes long before its logo replaced that of the apes on the MWOM masthead. Cosmic hero Captain Marvel also had a lengthy run in MWOM, as did wartime heroes the Invaders.
Name Change to Marvel Comic
In 1979, after 329 issues, MWOM was rebranded as 'Marvel Comic' as part of new editor Dez Skinn's British Marvel revoloution, losing its glossy cover and gaining several new strips, all with a reduced page count in order to cram in as many as possible: the Hulk and daredevil were joined by Dracula, Conan, time travelling dinosaur fighter Skull the Slayer and a strip titled 'S.I.6: the Specialists', which was actually a rebranding of Marvel's long running Master of Kung Fu strip. The Specialists failed to make much of an impression though, and both they and Skull were soon replaced by rogue dinosaur Godzilla (to which Marvel then held the licence) and feminist heroine Ms Marvel. The Hulk also departed for a new life in his own book, Hulk Comic, with the original X-Men replacing him.
Marvel Comic #352 (25th July 1979) was the final weekly issue of the title, but it was rebranded as Marvel Super-Heroes Monthly (see MSH entry for cover gallery) from #353, two months later (September 1979) with the Avengers in the lead slot, backed up by Ms Marvel and the X-Men. The actual title 'Marvel Comic' was absorbed by Spider-Man Comic (the former Spider-Man Comics Weekly), where Daredevil found a new home. In MSH, as it now was, Ms Marvel departed fairly quickly, as did the X-Men; instead Spider-Woman, the Champions and Super-Villain Team-Up stepped into the breach, later followed by early adventures of the Avengers already reprinted years ago in their own weekly which now puzzlingly ran alongside their 'new' adventures. But it was with issue #377 (September 1981) that the next really noteworthy change occurred in MSH, as it finally hosted an original, non reprint strip: the return of Captain Britain, by writer Dave Thorpe and artist Alan Davis. The Captain, created to be Marvel UK's own superhero in October 1976, had been floating around the Mavel UK line on and off ever since his own weekly title was cancelled after 39 issues, but the Captain Britain seen in MWOM was a dramatically redesigned version who far outstripped his former incarnation in popularity, not least because of the new costume designed for him by Davis. Dave Thorpe's madcap tale of Captain Britain trapped on an insane parallel Earth would come to an abrupt end, though, in issue #387 (July 1982) when Thorpe departed suddenly, to be replaced by Alan Moore, who within the space of two issues had killed off half the cast including Captain Britain, leaving the strip hanging in limbo. In #389, Moore wrote a text piece detailing the history of the character and promising that he would return-which he did, in January 1983, in the pages of The Daredevils #1. From December 1982 (issue #392), Marvel Superheroes absorbed Rampage Magazine, the 'new' X-Men becoming the new lead strip for its final few months. Marvel UK's flagship title was finally cancelled in May 1983 after 397 issues, merged with The Daredevils from The Daredevils #6 (which basically meant The Daredevils acquiring the ongoing text story adventures of Night Raven, who had been appearing in MSH since February 1982).See Marvel Super-Heroes for cover gallery.
Mighty World of Marvel Vol II
In June 1983 though, Mighty World of Marvel returned under its original title once more, now relaunched as a monthly by editor Bernie Jaye and designer Floron Florenzo, initially in full colour (though the first two issues suffered from printing problems which caused the colour to be misaligned with the art) and with stiff card covers which gave it an expensive look and feel to match its expensive price tag (an exorbitant 65p!). The opening lineup consisted of the X-Men (continuing from MSH) and reprints of the then hard to find in Britain US Marvel limited series; first The Vision & the Scarlet Witch and then, from issue #5, Frank Miller's classic Wolverine series (later issues would feature first Cloak & Dagger and then the X-Men and the Micronauts in this slot). From issue #7 though, the X-Men vanished, as MWOM absorbed The Daredevils, effectively reclaiming Captain Britain and Night Raven along with a number of new text features. New editor Tim Hampson admitted in #7 that the merger had been planned 'with some trepidation', since MWOM was squarely aimed at Marvel UK's traditional target audience while The Daredevils went for an older age group. His fears were justified; the new look MWOM was a rather confused affair which, despite its quality, lost readers. By issue #12 cost cutting meant the card covers were gone (collectors breathing a sigh of relief at this, as they'd been a nightmare to keep undamaged) and the colour was minimized, some of it replaced by a rather odd two tone reminiscent of the early issues of MWOM Volume 1. The book's dimensions also seemed to have almost imperceptably shrunk. Alan Moore departed the Captain Britain strip with issue #13 (Alan Davis and Steve Craddock continuing it for a further three issues), and the Captain himself disappeared after #16, going off to star in his own title once again from January 1985. The slimmed down (36 pages instead of the usual 52) Mighty world of Marvel #17 (October 1984) was the final issue, rather oddly beginning a new limited series, Magik, which continued (along with Night Raven) in the pages of Savage Sword of Conan #85, which incorporated the MWOM logo on its front cover (November '84). SSOC itself folded with #93 just a few months later, the sword and sorcery fans evidently not having appreciated the intrusion of superheroes into their blood soaked domain .
Mighty World of Marvel was relaunched for a third volume in 2003 by Panini UK, who now hold the licence to publish Marvel US reprints under the Marvel UK name, and lasted 86 monthly issues until 2009 before being relaunched again with volume 4. Appropriately enough, The Hulk, Daredevil and Captain Britain all featured heavily in early issues. Though volume 3 at first included a mix of newer and 'classic' material, later issues and the more recent volume 4 have concentrated primarily on reprinting material only a year or two old, giving readers without access to US imports an opportunity to keep up with more or less current events in the Marvel Universe.
There were also three Mighty World of Marvel Annuals published in 1977-1979 (the first featuring the Hulk and the Fantastic Four, the second Captain Marvel and Luke Cage and the third, Daredevil), as well as a Marvel Super-Heroes Annual (featuring the Avengers, Ms Marvel and the original X-Men) in 1980, the latter published by Granddreams. Three subsequent Marvel Superheroes Annuals were published in 1989, 1990 and 1992, but these have no connection to this series. A single Mighty World of Marvel Summer Special was published in 1983, featuring Hulk reprints.