Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Happy Birthday, Mighty World of Marvel!

Mighty World of Marvel #4, Spider-Man vs the Fantastic Four, Jim Starlin cover
It's an exciting time in the Steve Does Comics household.

Why?

Because my boiler's been declared free of deadly carbon monoxide.

But freedom from the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning is nothing compared to the other grounds for excitement.

That's because, in but a few short days from now, we celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the most important event in the history of humanity.

That event was the launch of The Mighty World of Marvel - a magical moment when American and British comics traditions fused to create an experience guaranteed to blow the socks off any child.

Sadly, despite seeing it advertised on TV, I missed issue #1 but my dad did see sanity in time to come home three weeks later with issue #4. And, from that point on, no weekend was complete without it.

How I thrilled as the Hulk took on the terrible Toad Men. How I boggled as the Fantastic Four were grabbed by the Skrulls. How I did whatever it was I did as the Amazing Spider-Man battled the FF.

I've not read issue #4 since I was eleven but what I do remember of it was how dark the world of Marvel Comics seemed in it. While the heroes of DC inhabited a mostly cheery world in which they were revered by their fellow inhabitants, Mighty World of Marvel #4 gave us a Frankensteinian monster whose first instinct was to destroy humanity rather than save it, a Fantastic Four who had another monster amongst  their ranks and defeated aliens by brainwashing them into becoming cows, and a teenager with the powers of one of the most loathed creatures on Earth.

It's easy as an adult to read those early Marvel tales and see them as cheery, naive escapism but escapism wasn't the real secret of their allure. Like Dr Who, they brought a weekend dose of the unsettling and sinister into the world of a child and, for that, some of us were strangely grateful.

10 comments:

Dougie said...

Excellent. I shall be celebrating the Atomic Age myself at the weekend.

Kid said...

I'm glad to say I was in on the ground floor from issue #1. I enjoy looking through my collection of early MWOMs every so often. I love the stories, the art, the green spot colour - even the smell of the paper. I remember thinking at the time how great it was to have what was basically the return of the best of the Power comics from the '60s. I was only 14, and yet I was already reliving my childhood. Always looking backwards, that's me.

Kid said...

Tell a lie - I was only 13. (It's the little details that matter, don't you think?)

Ed Note said...

I've been thinking about this anniversary too. Even back then (I was 12) I felt I was in a very fortunate position to be able to read these rare Marvel stories in order, more or less, of publication. My mouth hit the floor when I witnessed the TV advert with Stan Lee's voice, "Listen up, True Believer!" (I'm sure he must have said that). Long live Stan Lee and Make Mine Marvel!

david_b said...

I LOVE these alternate covers.

Starlin's work is always great!

Steve W. said...

I've been trying to find that Stan Lee ad on Youtube but, sadly, it appears to have been lost to the depths of history. :(

Gey Blabby said...

Me and my pal used to rush home of a Friday after school (we were 11) to collect our order from the local paper shop; mind you, it made the school week seem even longer as we were desperate to see what would be in the new issues.

Steve W. said...

The seven days between each issue of Mighty World of Marvel really did seem an eternity when I was eight.

Zombie Master said...

I remember my nan buying me issue 1when I was taken to work with her for the day. Seven years old. Then the my dad bought me the Avengers which really started my interest in Marvel. Even though if I remember issue 1 was actually a reprint of issue 4.

Anonymous said...

My all time favourite UK comic (with Smash and maybe Valiant) I still have my first 50 issues and a spattering of other issues (along with Spider man comics Weekly etc)I loved the letters pages reading comments by regulars like Ivor Davies, Nigel Fisher, Jim Ivers etc etc I have even met some of these lads - great fun days - McScotty

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