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Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Who Remembers The Mighty Thor?

(With thanks to various British comic fans): The launch of  the new Thor movie today in the UK prompted memories form British comic fans of Marvel UK's short-lived Thor-inspired reprint, The Mighty Thor.

Published in 1983 (Issue 1 cover dated 20th April), the title's launch followed the demise of a second Fantastic Four weekly. Thor had been a back up strip in many a UK Marvel title over the years - and, indeed, was one of the first Marvel superheroes to be published in Odhams Fantastic comic in 1967 -  but had not had his own UK title.

A page from the original Thor #171
Proclaiming that "Every Page" was in "Great Marvel Colour!", the reprint of Thor #171, drawn by Jack Kirby,was actually only published in full colour for part of the title - and the printing itself left a lot to be desired, with some printed issues suffering a lot of "off registration".

Even those pages that did print well were different to the colour of the original Marvel US editon, as the sample below indicates.
How Thor 171 was reprinted
in The Mighty Thor

As with all UK comics, the first issue included a free gift - in this instance, a 'free spinner', a gun-shaped plastic item with an elastic band in it which 'fired' a cut out circle of blue plastic.

Although starting solely with Thor, it wasn't long before the 28-page comic included a back up strip - usually Captain America, although Tales of Asgard also featured. Tim Quinn and Dicky Howett also contributed a half page 'Fantastic 400' cartoon alongside the usual mix of centre page mini posters, competitions and other features such as 'Bullpen Bulletins' promoting MUK's comics range.

The Mighty Thor itself proved short-lived, lasting just 19 issues before merging with the Original X-Men weekly to become Thor & X-Men. Marvel UK fans recall the problems with the printing lasted several weeks, which can't have helped sales, but perhaps this was a title that was always destined for merger, as part of a wider effort to boost the sales of titles.

• Thor Movie UK Site: http://thor.marvel.com/intl/uk


Kid said...

Not only do I remember this comic, John, I've still got my original set of them. (Was it really 28 years ago?) I think the colour differences on some pages to the original printings were due to one of the colours being accidentally left out of the mix. (As you know, the finished colour was achieved by mixing several different ones.)

I think the comic would've had a better chance of success if it had started THOR's adventures from the origin tale, but a lot of the early stories had been printed in THE TITANS Pocketbook not too long before so perhaps that's why they were excluded.

Gavin Burrows said...

Nice theory of a colour plate missing, but I don't think its borne out by those sample pages. Colours are swapped on them. In the original the villain is coloured green, but in the reprint he becomes muddy brown and Thor's cloak becomes green.

Perhaps they didn't have access to the original colour separations, just the B+W artwork.

Or maybe "Marvel colour" is a special term for "none of the ordinary colours, where you would expect them to be."

IIRR, their crappy colour printing process also caused lots of grooves and folds in the pages...

Kid said...

I'd have to check, but I have a dim recollection that the missing colour plate "theory" was the explanation given in a subsequent issue. (Or was it for the off-colour cover of FF #110? As I said, I'll have to check.)

Kid said...

Okay, I've checked. A number of issues of FF #110 were printed with the cyan and magenta plates mixed up - this led to greens being printed as reds, reds as greens and blues as purples. The mistake was caught and corrected, but a few off-colour copies did go on sale.

It seems fairly certain then, that a similar error occurred with the first issue of THOR's comic.

Gavin Burrows said...

Ah, plates being mixed up! That would make sense! Thanks for the info, Kid!

Both options suggest a fairly slapdash printer, however!

Kid said...

Yes, so if the plates were mixed up, each respective plate would be 'missing' from it's designated place. (My initial reply was a tentative suggestion based on a vaguely remembered memory from the dim and distant past - I still captured the gist of it. Blue Peter badge for me, I think.)

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