Sunday, 5 March 2017


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Before the MASTERWORKS and OMNIBUS volumes, there was - MARVEL COLLECTORS' ITEM CLASSICS!  68 pages of great superhero strips for only 1/6-  (or 25c if you lived in the States), they were a handy way of catching up on the earliest adventures of SPIDER-MAN, The FANTASTIC FOUR, IRON MAN, Dr. STRANGE, ANT-MAN and The HULK.  (Even The WATCHER was there to 'watch' over proceedings.)

The line-up varied over the first few issues, before settling down to a regular cast of heroes, and these issues are now highly collectable in their own right.  I had quite a few of them in my youth and have very fond memories of them.  Although I'd already read many of these sensational stories in British weekly periodicals WHAM!, SMASH!POW!FANTASTIC and TERRIFIC, this was the first time I'd seen them in full-colour, and I liked what I saw.

It was in the pages of  MCIC that I learned that the baddie I knew as The APEMASTER was actually The RED GHOST, and that MADAME NATASIA's name was spelt NATASHA in her original American appearances.  For a short time, in my ignorance, I considered the U.K. reprints to be 'the real thing' and the U.S. originals as mere counterfeits, but I soon wised up and learned to appreciate both incarnations of these strips.

Anyway, in celebration of these great comics of yesteryear, here's a cover gallery of the first dozen issues.  If you remember them with the same fondness as I do, then feel free to share your reminiscences of these mags in the comments section.  Don't be selfish by keeping all those warm memories to yourself.

This ish is dated 1966, but I bought it brand-new off the spinner-rack in
1969.  Thank goodness for delayed distribution of U.S. comics in Britain

Looks like the U.K. price went up with this ish - still a bargain though


Phil S said...

It's so strange to me that these reprints are now collectible.

TC said...

I had #6, and #8-13. By then, the regular features were Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Doctor Strange, the Hulk, and (sometimes) the Watcher. I think the Spider-Man, Ant-Man, and Thor reprints continued in Marvel Tales.

I don't have any particular charming anecdotes about them. Somehow, I associate the FF story in #6 (Reed fighting Cyclops, the Thing fighting the Sub-Mariner) with my aunt & uncle's house, so I must have read it while visiting there. But I seem to associate the Iron Man story with the back seat of my parents' car, so maybe I read that on the way home. And I associate #8 and #12 with my grandparents' house. I remember the Iron Man story that introduced Happy Hogan and Pepper Potts, and the FF story where Doctor Doom transferred his mind into Reed Richards' body and vice versa. And #12 reprinted the first appearance of Natasha, the Black Widow. She had a henchman named Boris in that story, but their mission was to assassinate Iron Man, Tony Stark, and a Soviet defector named Vanko, not to find Moose & Squirrel.

The title was changed to Marvel's Greatest Comics in 1969, IIRC. I think it continued for a while as a 25c or 35c, 64-page comic. Be late 1970's or so, page count was reduced to a standard 32-page size, with only the Fantastic Four reprints.

TC said...

BTW, the last two word balloons on the cover of #9 may be an allusion to the NBC-TV evening news. The anchor men, Huntley and Brinkley, always signed off at the end of each broadcast: "Good night, David." "Good night, Chet." In the mid-1960's, that became a national catch phrase in the USA, and it was often parodied.

Rip Jagger said...

One thing I really like about these early Marvel reprint books are the covers of covers. The little images seem the antithesis of what you'd want in a cover, an image to shout across a store from the spinner rack, but somehow these weird items worked.

Rip Off

Andrew May said...

I certainly do have fond memories of these comics! At one time (1969-70) it was my absolute favourite, for several reasons. I first discovered Marvel via Fantastic, but soon afterwards I picked up my first US original, which happened to be MCIC #9 (cover date June 1967, but it would have been about a year after that). I quickly discovered I preferred the size, smell and colour of American comics, and became an avid collector of several titles - but at that age (10-11) I didn't enjoy the latest issues as much as the earlier reprints. And MCIC had some of my favourite characters (the FF, Dr Strange, Iron Man, the Hulk). In the end I managed to round up every single issue except #6 ... and I've still got them!

Kid said...

I think they're mainly collectable to readers who actually had them back in the day, PS. To newer readers, there are better quality reprints now available.


Thanks for the info, TC. That saves me from having to relate it in a future post. I have some of the Marvel's Greatest Comics issues, but they're still the 68 page issues. I don't think I've got any of the thinner ones from the '70s. Funny how comics can take you right back to where you first read them, eh?


Yeah, RJ, who'd ever have thought that a cover with four smaller covers on it could be so effective? MCIC is probably where I got to see the original covers of many Marvel classics for the very first time.


I've got quite a run of them, AM, but there are a few issues I need to plug some gaps from before the mag changed its name to MGC (Marvel's Greatest Comics). At least you've seen what issue #6 looks like on this post, so now may be the time to hunt it down on eBay. Glad that you and the others enjoyed seeing these great mags from the '60s again.

John Pitt said...

These (and Marvel Tales! ) were bloody BRILLIANT! I had quite a lot of the above ( as I shall be coming to myself soon ) and they were one heckuva read for one and a tanner! Just like yourself, this is where I caught up on what I'd missed in colour!
Some of the issues, but I can't remember exactly which, I got from Skeggie, during our holiday in '68!

Kid said...

Some of the ones I had, I bought from a shop called Corson's, which still survives, 'though I don't know if they still use that name. It was a family-run store, and the guy who owns it today is the son of the owners back in my day. I even remember him working in the place as a teenager.

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