British Publishers | Marvel UK | “Genesis ’92”: Looking Back and What Might Have Been

Death's Head II Mini SeriesLast Updated: 18th June 2017

Reason for Latest Update: Mystery Motormouth strip added

When Paul Neary returned to Marvel UK in the 1990s,  appointed to reinvigorate both its UK titles and create a line of US comics, he rapidly revamped the company structure. On the adventure comics side began his new era with two short-lived reprint titles, Havoc (headlining the Marvel US character, Deathlok) and the monthly magazine, Meltdown (which included a reprint of Akira that, if the title had still been running, might still not have been finished…)

These two titles, which I edited, were stopgaps while he readied his 1992 launches, which began with a hugely successful Death’s Head II mini series, revamping Death’s Head into a more cyberpunk-like character, which was initially to have been written by the character’s creator, Simon Furman, but was scripted by Dan Abnett and drawn by Liam Sharp.

The initial 1992 US titles were, for the US market, Death’s Head II (written by Dan Abnett, initially drawn by Liam Sharp); Digitek (written by John Tomlinson with art by Dermot Power),  Hell’s Angel (which became Dark Angel after five issues for legal reasons, written by Bernie Jaye and, later Gary Russell); Warheads (initially written by Nick Vince and drawn by Gary Erskine); Motormouth (by Graham Marks, drawn by Gary Frank) and Knights of Pendragon (written by Dan Abnett and John Tomlinson, drawn by Phil Gascoine).

The stories were reprinted in the UK magazine Overkill, initially with their superhero cameo pages excised, until market research revealed the target audience expected a Marvel UK branded comic to have superheroes in it.

Aside from Death’s Head II and Digitek the four other books were linked by events surrounding the clandestine evil organisation Mys-Tech, run by a Faustian cabal with a secret headquarters under London’s Docklands.

Initial sales of the core US titles, backed by intense marketing on both sides of the Atlantic, were encouraging and it wasn’t long before Marvel US wanted more of the same and more titles were released. But after an enthusiastic two years of frenetic activity in Arundel House, London, the US direct sales market imploded in 1994 and the brave experiment was abruptly curtailed with numerous commissioned projects abandoned, all at different stages of development, from full art (such as Dan Abnett and Mark Harrison’s Loose Cannons) through to requested pitches (such as Armageddon Knights, a new take on Knights of Pendragon, delivered to Paul Neary in September 1993).

What follows is a list of published Marvel UK titles from that incredible period – some of which I edited – along with a list of known cancelled projects. More information is welcome!

PUBLISHED COMICS

March 1992

Death’s Head II – Four issue limited series
Writer: Dan Abnett
Art: Liam Sharp
Editor: John Freeman

June 1992

Knights of Pendragon II – ran for 15 issues
Writers: Dan Abnett & John Tomlinson
Art: Phil Gascoine

A revamp of the original KOP concept, but with more superhero leanings Paul Neary felt would work better in the US

Warheads – ongoing series, ran for 14 issues
Writers: Nick Vince, John Freeman, Craig Huston
Art: Gary Erskine, Simon Coleby, Stuart Jennett
Editor: John Freeman

Motormouth (later, Motormouth & Killpower) – ongoing series, ran for 12 issues
Writers: Graham Marks, John Freeman, Andrew Cartmel and Simon Jowett
Art: Gary Frank and others

Bad-mouthed teenager Harley Davis gains possession of dimension jumping trainers (a.k.a MOPED units), created by Mys-TECH.

As the Starlogged blog notes: “Harley Davis is distinguished amongst the Genesis 92 characters in that – unlike the others – she did secure a guest appearance in one of the ‘proper’ American Marvel books. Most Atlantic crossings were strictly one way with numerous appearances by American characters in the UK books but little traffic heading in the opposite direction.  The exception was Harley’s turn in Peter David’s The Incredible Hulk 408 and 409 (August & September 1993).”

July 1992

The cover of a Spanish language collection of Dark Angel. Cover by Salvador Larocca.Thanks to Alan Green for the find.
The cover of a Spanish language collection of Dark Angel. Cover by Salvador Larocca.Thanks to Alan Green for the find.
Hell’s Angel/Dark Angel – ongoing series, ran for 11 issues
Writers: Bernie Jaye, Gary Russell
Art: Geoff Senior, Bryan Hitch, Duke Mighten

October 1992

Death’s Head II – ongoing series, ran for 16 issues. Issues 17-18 were solicited but never published.
Writer: Dan Abnett
Art: Liam Sharp
Editor: John Freeman

Issue 1 included a gatefold cover and sold 365,000 copies (Comic World 13, March 1993). Issue 5 was a Mys-Tech Wars tie-in.

A page from the unpublished Death's Head #17, featured in a Spanish language collection of Dark Angel. Thanks to Alan Green for the find.
A page from the unpublished Death’s Head #17, featured in a Spanish language collection of Dark Angel. Thanks to Alan Green for the find.

December 1992

Digitek – Four issues
Script: John Tomlinson
Art: Dermot Power

Marvel Wikia Page: http://marvel.wikia.com/Digitek_Vol_1

Battletide – Four issue mini series
Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Art: Geoff Senior

Marvel UK’s first crossover title, assembling both British and US heroes against hordes of alien gladiators. A UK collection – the only Overkill spin-off – was published in 1993.

More info: www.marvunapp.com/Appendix/battletd.htm and http://marvel.wikia.com/Battletide_Vol_1

January 1993

Codename: Genetix
Script: Andy Lanning
Art: Bryan Hitch

Incomplete Death’s Head – 12 issue maxi series
Writer: Dan Abnett provided linking pages, from a plot by John Freeman
Artist: Simon Coleby drew the linking pages
Colour: David Leach

Reprinting the original appearances of the first Death’s Head from his initial Marvel UK appearances in Doctor Who Magazine through to She-Hulk. Included wraparound linking story guest starring the Seventh Doctor at its climax.

I left Marvel UK in early 1993. You can read about the state of play of various projects in this lightly redacted internal memo: Marvel UK Comics Pending – January 1993 (PDF format).

March 1993

Mys-Tech Wars – 4 issue series
Script: Dan Abnett
Art: Bryan Hitch

A battle fought against the the dark organization known as MyS-Tech by members of the Dark Guard, Fantastic Four, The X-Men, Secret Defenders and other Marvel heroes including Hulk, Captain America, Captain Britain, and Dr. Strange. The story played out in the MyS-Tech wars limited series and numerous Marvel UK.

Checklist and crossover notes: http://www.comicvine.com/mys-tech-wars/4045-50951/

April 1993

Black Axe Issue 1Black Axe
Writer: Simon Jowett
Artist:  Pencils by Edmund Perryman, Inks by Rodney Ramos

Black Axe for seven issues – Issues 8-9 were solicited but not published.

Over 10,000 years old, Black Axe has become a master of every fighting technique and gained vast wealth. His axe matches the state-of-the-art technology of whatever era he is in.

More info: www.marvunapp.com/Appendix3/blackaxe.htm

Super Soldiers – Eight issues
Writer: Michael Bennent
Art: Andrew Currie Inks: Rodney Ramos

Wild Thing – Seven issues. Issues 8-11 were solicited
Writer: Simon Jowett
Art: Duke Mighten and Brian Apthorp

June 1993

Shadow Riders – Four issue mini series
Writers: John Freeman & Brian Williamson
Art: Ross Dearsley

The Shadow Riders are one of many teams that resist the evil of the corporation Mys-Tech. They ally themselves with the mercenary Cable to rescue a tortured mutant named Matthew Ryan from the company. However, Ryan has secrets of his own that will come to threaten them.
The first issue sold 142,00 copies.

July 1993

Cyberspace 3000 #1Cyberspace 3000
Writer: Michael Bennent & Gary Russell (#1); Gary Russell (#2 – 8)
Penciller: Steve Tappin (#1 – #8)
Inker: Michael Eve and Andy Lanning (#1); Michael Eve (#2 – 8)
Colourist: Steve Whitaker (#1 – 2); Paul Schroeder (#3)

This series (which featured covers by Liam Sharp & Andy Lanning, and Andrew Currie) ran for eight issues and followed the adventures of the 31st century spaceship Sol III, which has fled Earth with a cargo of refugees. It featured guest appearances from Galactus, the Silver Surfer and Adam Warlock, as well as Dark Angel.

Marvel Wikia Page: http://marvel.wikia.com/Cyberspace_3000_Vol_1_1

Warheads: Black Dawn – two issue mini series
Writer: Craig Huston
Artist: Charlie Adlard

August 1993

Battletide II (1993) – Four issue mini series
Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Art: Geoff Senior

Death’s Head II and the origin of Die-Cut – Two issue mini series
Writer: Glenn Dakin
Artist: John Royle

Die-Cut’s origins are revealed as he teams up with Death’s Head and Tuck on Mattrica Scorpio during their mission to cure a plague affecting Tuck’s fellow synthetic life forms on Lionheart.

• More info on Die-Cut: www.marvunapp.com/Appendix/diecutmuk.htm

September 1993

Death’s Head 3.0 – four issues
Writer: Dan Abnett
Art: Dell Baras

From the Marvel UK line comes Death 3. “Prometheus Unhinged!” Part 1 of 4. Welcome to Los Angeles 2021 AD. Former AIM (Advanced Idea Mechanics) member and head developer of the Minion Project (see Death’s Head II #1-4, above), Doctor Evelyn Necker has just created the ultimate weapon, the rogue cyborg known as Death Metal. The only problem is Necker’s creation has a mind of its own…

Killpower: The Early Years – Four issue series
Writer: Mike W. Barr
Art: John Ross

October 1993

Dark Guard – four issues. Issue 5 was solicited  but never published.
Writer: Dan Abnett
Art: Carlos Pacheo
Inks: Cam Smith
Editor: Stuart Bartlett

Originally Dark Guard was two books, combined as a special as the series was canned. “I inked the cover of the Dark Guard issue you have shared [see below], but strangely, you have a version inked by someone else,” Cam Smith tells us. “I’ve no idea where that came from!

“My inks were commissioned and in print. Mark Farmer was originally asked to ink the double sized special but didn’t have time. I was initially asked to ink half (in effect, one regular book for me, one for Mark). But Mark decided he couldn’t ink his half and so the entire double sized book was allocated to me.

“Mark sent me his pages – he had only put panel borders on and hadn’t started inking. The deadline was tight. I started work on the project between the Christmas and New Year break, only to find, much to my disappointment, that the book was pulled when Marvel UK got back in the offices in early January!”

Although the Dark Guard project ended sourly for Cam, who was also working on books for Marvel US, there was some good from the debacle.

“I was also working on Hulk with Gary Frank at this time,” Cam tells us. “I was also doing stuff for the X-office’s Suzzane Gaffney and she asked for suggestions for pencilers for several mini-series. I sent some Carlos P stuff and gave her his phone number . That’s how we landed the Bishop mini series (and, subsequently, Starjammers) – Carlos’s first US work.”

 

The cover of the Spanish language collected edition of "Dark Guard" Issues 1 - 4.
The cover of the Spanish language collected edition of “Dark Guard” Issues 1 – 4.

Carlos Pacheo's pencils for the cover of Dark Guard Issue 5, which open a section in the Spanish language collection of Dark Guard entitled "Dark Guard Gold"
Carlos Pacheo’s pencils for the cover of Dark Guard Issue 5, which open a section in the Spanish language collection of Dark Guard entitled “Dark Guard Gold”
Page 8 of the unpublished Dark Guard #5.
Page 8 of the unpublished Dark Guard #5.
Dark Guard artwork by Carlos Pacheo
Dark Guard artwork by Carlos Pacheo
 

Marvel UK fan Alan Green has unearthed the Spanish trade paperback of Dark Guard which contains several pages entitled “Dark Guard Gold”, featuring a mix of lettered pages (in English) and pencil and ink pages, mainly from Issue 5 but some work from Issue 6, too. “It is far from complete but from what I can tell from the text, Marvel denied them permission to print it in its entirety,” he tells us. Published here are the cover of the collection and a couple of pages from this gem.

Gary Russell tells us: “Dark Guard Gold was indeed intended to be a quarterly (I was allegedly going to do something for one issue).”

More about Dark Guard on the Appendix to the Marvel Universe Site

Gene Dogs – Four issue mini series
Writer: John Freeman
Art: Dave Taylor and Stephen Baskerville

Commissioned as a British X-Men-styled book by Paul Neary. Included a guest appearance by Hurricane, a villain from Captain Britain Weekly!

Genetix – Six issues
Writers: Andy Lanning and Graham Marks
Art: Phil Gascoine

Gun Runner – Six issue series
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Art: Anthony Williams/Adolfo Buyalla

An enhanced soldier from the planet of Vassyra, Brell was an athlete before war meant he had to be physically refitted with new power.

November 1993

Die-Cut – Four issues
Writer: Glenn Dakin
Artist: Bernard Custodio

The first issue featured Death’s Head II.

Die-Cut versus G-Force – Two Issues
Script: John Freeman
Art: John Royle
Editor: Stuart Bartlett

Plasmer #1 - Cover
Plasmer #1
Plasmer – Four issue series
Writer: Glenn Dakin
Art: Pasqual Ferry

Plasmer centred on a shapeshifting, artificial lifeform created by Doctor Oonagh Mullarkey, who used both science and magic to separate the good and evil parts of her personality as a means of increasing her abilities. The good parts of her were placed in a formless protoplasm that developed a life of its own, and became the superhero Plasmer.

Sadly, the character was the subject of a Marvel lawsuit against Defiant Comics’ Plasm due to alleged similarities in name, even after Defiant offered (and did) change the name of their project to Warriors of Plasm. Jim Shooter discusses the whole sorry tale here on Comic Book Resources.

A follow-up series of Plasmer  again drawn by Pasqual Ferry, the Spanish artist best known for his work on Heroes for HireAction Comics and Adam Strange, was also commissioned.

December 1993

Death Metal versus Genetix – Two issue series
Writer: Simon Furman
Artist: Paco Diaz (aka Paco Diaz Luque)

More about Death Metal on the Marvel Appendix

January 1994

Death’s Head Gold
Story and art: Liam Sharp

Announced as a quarterly companion to the main title but cancelled after the first issue and free #0 preview special. Issue one had a gold foil cover.

Death Metal – Four Issues
Writer: Simon Furman
Artist: John Royle

Created by A.I.M.’s Dr. Necker, Death Metal is a cyborg composed of the living metal prometheum recovered from Earth-9939.

Death Metal comes to the attention of MyS-Tech during his search for a means to end his own existence, ultimately finding a new reason to carry on. Death’s Head II cameos in Issue One.

• More info on Death Metal: www.marvunapp.com/Appendix/deathmet.htm

Death Wreck – four issue series
Writer: Craig Houston
Artist: Stewart “Staz” Johnson

The origin of Death Wreck, Necker’s Minion prototype, who promptly runs loose through time. Naturally. Death’s Head 2 cameos in #1 and #4.

• More on Death Wreck: http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix/deathwre.htm

October 1994

Clandestine
Art and story: Alan Davis

Initially a Marvel UK project, which was transferred to Marvel US when Marvel UK closed down

Wild Angles: Perdute nel Cybersazio
Although Wild Angels wasn’t published in the UK it was published in Italy.
Wild Angels
Writer: Nick Vince
Artist: Pino Rinaldi

Wild Angels was to have brought two characters into one title – Shevaun Haldane aka Dark Angel and Nikki Doyle aka Wild Thing. The series was written by Nick Vince (Warheads, Mortigan Goth: Immortalis) and drawn by Italian artist Pino Rinaldi, whose credits in his native country included  Skorpio, Martin Mystere and Nathan Never. He did some work for Marvel in the US in the late 1990s, and was also a fill-in artist on the later, now retconned, issues of the non-Alan Davis period of ClanDestine.

A page from Wild Angels drawn by Pino Rinaldi
A page from Wild Angels drawn by Pino Rinaldi
Although unpublished in English, Wild Angels was published in Italy in 1996 as a single black and white volume, “where Marvel UK material continued to be printed for a good while longer than in the UK, US and Canada,” notes It Came from Darkmoor. The book was a best seller for Marvel Italia.

The plot used some kind of time travel as a device to let Dark Angel travel to 2020, but the action was mainly centered in a virtual reality spiced up with magic.

This of course does raise the interesting question: if Wild Things was published in Italy, were any of the unpublished titles below also published there?

There’s a guide to the published story in English here on MarvUnApp

• It Came from Darkmoor has two articles on this project; an initial feature here and an update here which includes more information on the title’s Italian publication, including artwork samples provided by Pino Rinaldi

June 1995

NocturneNocturne (Four issue series)
Writer: Dan Abnett
Art: Pino Rinaldi (solicited artist) – actually drawn by José Fonteriz
Inks: John Stokes
Colour: Steve White; Sophie Heath
Letters: Pat Prentice

A film-maker discovers an old costume that grants him extraordinary powers, but which also seems to be taking over his mind.

Originally untended as part of a four-book relaunch of the Marvel UK range Paul Neary planned in 1994. An updated version of Night Raven, it was published by Marvel US, albeit with a Marvel UK logo on the cover.

“It’s been kinda written off as an alt-universe story because it doesn’t really fit the main universe version of Night Raven,” notes It Came from Darkmoor compiler Mark Roberts.

Alan Cowsill tells us there was an original version of Nocturne that Dan Abnett and Andrew Currie were doing that never got passed a few pages and script.

More info:

• Marvel Wikia: http://marvel.wikia.com/Nocturne_Vol_1
• It Came From Darkmoor: http://itcamefromdarkmoor.blogspot.co.uk/2010/11/deaths-head-which-almost-was-interview.html
The Comic Vault: Dan Abnett’s Nocturne Review – YouTube
Atomic Avenue mini review

A1 co-creator and comics publisher Dave Elliott recalls another Night Raven-related project was developed – see below.

July 1995

X-Men Archives Featuring Captain Britain #1X-Men Archives Featuring Captain Britain

Collections of Marvel UK strips from several different sources

#1 – Reprints the Captain Britain stories from Marvel Super-Heroes #377#383

#2 – Reprints the Captain Britain strories from Marvel Superheroes #384Daredevils #1

#3 – Reprints Captain Britain from Daredevils #2#5

#4 – Reprints Captain Britain from from Daredevils #6#8

#5 – Reprints Captain Britain from Daredevils #9#11

#6 – Reprints Captain Britain from Mighty World of Marvel #7#10

#7 – Reprints Captain Britain from  Mighty World of Marvel #11#13

 


FRONTIER COMICS TITLES

Frontier was an imprint of Marvel UK some of whose projects were unconnected with the mainstream Marvel UK continuity. The imprint was managed by Michael Bennent, assisted by Gary Russell.

Bloodseed – Two issue micro series
Art and Story: Liam Sharp
Inks: Cam Smith
Editor: Stuart Bartlett

Children of the Voyager – Four issue series
Writer: Nick Abadzis
Art: Paul Johnson

Dances with Demons – four issues
Writer: Simon Jowett
Art: Charlie Adlard

Immortalis – four issues
Writer: Nick Vince
Art: Mark Buckingham

Frontier Comics Special #1Frontier Comics Special
Various writers and artists

A one-off anthology published in January 1994 (originally intended to be an ongoing title) comprising six stories featuring Frontier Comics characters, with scripts from the likes of Nick Abadzis, David Hine, Simon Jowett, Nicholas Vince and art by Charles Adlard, D’Israeli, David Hine, Paul Johnson,  and wrapped in a cover by Liam Sharp.

More on Frontier Comics on the Starlogged blog here


UNPUBLISHED PROJECTS

1990 – 1991

Riding on the coat tails of STRIP, Marvel UK’s anthology title published in 1990, editor Dan Abnett worked with a number of creators on possible mini series in US format, of varying length. These included a Death’s Head mini series almost certainly conceived by Simon Furman, a new Abslom Daak – Dalek Killer saga by Steve Moore and a Rourke of the Radlands mini series featuring the warrior character created by myself and Liam Sharp, drawn by Liam, who appeared in STRIP #4.

None of these projects eventually went ahead and Dan Abnett, already a highly accomplished writer, left the company to go freelance, returning to write some of the Genesis 1992 projects under Paul Neary’s direction, including Death’s Head II.

The work Dan put into these projects, working with Marvel US staffers Tom de Falco and Carol Kalish, laid the groundwork for the US books that would be developed by Paul Neary for “Genesis 1992”, with their emphasis on action adventure and superhero guest stars.

Known projects include:

Abslom Daak
Abslom Daak
After Daak by Steve Moore Artst: Unassigned

Steve Moore, who passed away in 2014, was approached to develop a mini series based on his much-loved Abslom Daak character the chaibsword-wielding Dalek Sayer created for Doctor Who Weekly and drawn by Steve Dillon. Steve developed a wonderful ten part saga which you can read in full on the Altered Vistas web site, along with an interview him about Daak’s development.

Although Dan and I were enthused by Steve’s proposal, word came down from Marvel US – probably from either Tom de Falco or top sales person Carol Kalish – that ten issue mini series were no longer favoured for costs reasons, and Marvel was seeking to publish four-issue mini series instead to try out new characters. The emphasis for these projects also had to be very much on the action, rather than what might have been described as the cerebral, and as the point of contact with Steve and MUK I had to deliver this bad news, much to his dismay.

“I can’t really remember the sequence of events properly,” Steve recalled in his interview, “but in the file here I have a copy of a proposal by Dan Abnett and John Freeman for a story that would bring back Daak and sort out the continuity problems left by Nemesis of the Daleks [a Doctor Who story that ran in DWM] with a complicated tale of clones that left a clone Daak contentedly matched up with a clone Taiyin. I’ve a feeling they may have sent this to me to take a look at and comment on. I’m really not sure what happened next, but it seems that story was put aside, and I then found myself writing a proposal for a  ten-issue mini-series called After Daak that also took into account the Nemesis of the Dalek continuity.

“I guess my major mistake was in deciding I wanted to do a more grown-up, sophisticated type of story that combined a ripping yarn of Daak and Mercurius in their Star Tiger days with a much bleaker mystery story set fifty years later, where two scholars try to uncover the truth behind the Daak legends… it was probably the most complex plot I’d ever come up with, and the outline was written in minute detail. I was immensely pleased with it, and I really regret that it was never written… I’d write it today, either as a strip or a novel, if I could find someone who’d pay me to do it. Unlikely as that is, though, I’m just glad to have the outline ‘published’ here on the website, so it gets out somehow, rather than just being neglected. At least it gives some idea of where the story would have gone if I’d been able to do what I liked with it.”

Meanwhile, at Arundel House, Dan and I were informed four issues were the minimum Marvel could publish – there was some legal or distribution restriction in the US on publishing three-part mini series, which the company would have preferred. This immediately impacted our colouring on commissioning Steve’s story.

“So John Freeman asked me to cut the story down from ten issues to four, which was absurd, and to concentrate on ‘what Daak does best’… in other words, he wanted a thug with a chainsaw,” Steve recalled. “I wasn’t prepared to chop After Daak about like that, so I made a compromise offer that we’d put that story to one side and I’d write another outline for a four-issue series, which would concentrate on Daak’s youth and early exploits with Mercurius and Selene, for which I jotted down a couple of paragraphs. If that went well, I suggested, we might do After Daak afterwards. But nothing ever came of that idea either, and everything just sort of fizzled out.”

Sadly, for reasons beyond Dan and my control, neither Steve’s ten-part or four-part proposal was ever taken up, although both treatments would almost certainly have been seen by Paul Neary when he took up the reins as Editorial Director at Marvel UK in the 1990s. By that time, Marvel US considered Doctor Who a ‘dead’ franchise and there was no value to Marvel in seeking to extend a brand they did not themselves own. Instead, Paul developed the Genesis 1992 characters for the company while also revamping Death’s Head, drawn by Liam Sharp.

 

Liam Sharp's faxes, sent to John Freeman featuring ideas for a proposed Marvel UK mini series featuring Rourke, Monark Starstalker and Wolverine.
Liam Sharp’s faxes, sent to John Freeman featuring ideas for a proposed Marvel UK mini series featuring Rourke, Monark Starstalker and Wolverine.
Rourke of the Radlands
Writer: John Freeman Artist: Liam Sharp

A little taken aback by the positive response to female future warrior Rourke’s appearance in STRIP #4, Dan asked me to come up with a mini series proposal developing the character and the alternate future Earth she lived in. I wrote an initial proposal – a time travel/ action adventure story – but during the project’s development, writers were asked to re-work their propsosals to include Marvel heroes. I think I came up with at least two versions, one including Wolverine and Monark Starstalker, a character created by Howard Chaykin for Marvel Spotlight some years before. As with the After Daak project, the mini series went ahead but Liam’s visuals caught Paul’s attention, along with some X-Men samples, and he went on to draw Death’s Head II for the Genesis 1992 project.

Under the original ethos of STRIP, several of the characters created for the one-off stories featured in the title were commissioned on the basis that they would be creator owned, and Paul Neary ensured that this agreement was honoured in March 1992, with letters sent to several creators acknowledging ownership by then Managing Director Vincent Conran.

The letters confirmed that Rourke of the Radlands is copyright John Freeman and Liam Sharp, that characters featured in the story “Eight Miles High” are copyright John Carnell and Gary Erskine; and “Combat Wombat”, which was drawn by Tony O’Donnell, is copyright Steve White and Andy Seddon.

• A new Rourke of the Radlands story will feature in the digital anthology Biodegradable, drawn by Bill Storie

1992(?)

The Two Doctors by Lee SullivanDoctor Who/Doctor Strange Crossover
Writer: Andrew Cartmel Artist: Lee Sullivan

While Steve Moore’s project unfortunately went nowhere, this didn’t dampen my enthusiasm for trying to get spin-off Doctor Who projects off the ground. That included the Doctor Who newspaper strip pitched at the Daily Express, and a story by Andrew Cartmel featuring a Doctor Who and Doctor Strange crossover. It was at this point I learnt of Who‘s disfavour by Marvel US, even though Tom deFalco was a fan of the show).

Andrew’s story involved an ageing rock band who had made a deal with a demon to ensure their success. Lee Sullivan drew a promotional image for the proposed series. There’s a little more information on this abandonned project her.

1993

Battletide III
Writer: Information Welcome (Probably Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning)
Artist: Information Welcome (Probably Geoff Senior)

Sequel to the two previous Battletide limited series. Issue one was solicited in but subsequently cancelled.

Bloodrush
Writer: Simon Jowett
Art: Charlie Adlard

Solicited but cancelled.

Unpublished art for a planned G-Force mini series from Marvel UK, scripted by John Freeman, art by John Ross
Unpublished art for a planned G-Force mini series from Marvel UK, scripted by John Freeman, art by John Ross
G-Force – Four issue series
Writer: John Freeman
Art: John Ross
Editor: Stuart Bartlett

Follow up to the two-issue Die-Cut versus G-Force mirco series. Four scripts were written and at least 19 pages of Issue One drawn.

For those of you interested in ancient history, I’ve posted the work done, including the scripts (both for the mini series and a two-page G-Force story for Overkillhere in PDF format. The best thing about it, looking back, is John Ross’ amazing art. I can’t speak for the story. Rose tinted glasses and all that!

Heavy Weapons 911 (Frontier title)

Writer: Simon Jowett
Artist: Information Welcome

Announced for 1993 but unpublished. Described by Frontier Group Editor Michael Bennent as “humour-orientated title about a big robot with big guns.”

“I was slated to write Heavy Weapon (I don’t remember ‘911’ being added to the title),” Sion Jowett recalls, “but had only written a few pages of each when the final hammer fell.”

More info: http://starlogged.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/marvel-uk-in-usa-part-two.html

Killfrenzy
Writer: Information Welcome
Artist: Henry Flint

Knights of Pendragon: Armageddon Knights
Writer: John Freeman
Artist: Unknown

I was asked to come up with a plot line for a new Knights of Pendragon saga, which was sent to Paul Neary in September 1993. The story featured Mys-TECH and followed on from their guest appearance in the unpublished G-Force mini series. I presume it was a victim of the cull of titles, because I never received any response to the pitch (mind you, the covering letter was pretty snotty about some other matters, so I’m not surprised – the arrogance of youth!).

I used Grace and Union Jack as the major players, but also wrapped up the “loose ends” from the second Knights of Pendragon series without cluttering the basic story of the Red Lord escaping his dimensional prison and starting to lay waste to the omnivores, which was Paul’s idea, I think. I was asked, it seems, not to include Albion but in such a climactic storyline as the one we discussed I really felt his absence would be very odd – so I used him in the context of his links with the Dark Guard. My plot line had no Marvel US guest stars – – though Dark Guard were obvious candidates as Marvel UK cameos.

I have re-worked the concept with all-new characters a couple of times, once at Tim Perkins suggestion for a US publisher and more recently with artist Bill Storie.

Knuckledown
Writer and Artist: Carl Critchlow

Announced as a four-issue fully-painted limited series “featuring a genetic romp through Earth’s dinosaur-infested past”.

More info: http://starlogged.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/marvel-uk-in-usa-part-two.html

Loose Cannons by Mark Harrison
Art for Loose Cannons by Mark Harrison
Loose Cannons – Four issue series
Writer: Dan Abnett
Art: Mark Harrison

An all-female Warheads troop – Virago – are teamed, reluctantly with Death’s Head II… Three issue of the fully painted series were completed, with the fourth almost finished.

Here’s the sell-in information from Previews, November 1993:

This fully-painted four-issue limited series features the first appearance of Loose Cannons , the female wing of the mercenary squad Warheads . Will they survive their first appearance? When they bring their own brand of firepower to a world overrun by propagating insect aliens, the Cannons come back with an unexpected souvenir; a deadly bacterium that horribly deforms any human it touches! What will their bosses do? Why, bottle it, label it “food” and sell it to the starving masses of course! The Loose Cannons then set out to right the wrong they inadvertently brought to the world-but they’re not alone in their mission! They’re joined by Death’s Head II, that loveable android with the killer charisma. Along the way the crew encounters still more insectoid alien hordes, and the Kree, Shi’ Ar and Skrull alliance!

• Read the story online: www.2000ad.org/markus/loosecannons

 

A double page spread from the unpublished Motormouth versus Removal Man, written by Glenn Daken and drawn by Tim Perkins
A double page spread from the unpublished Motormouth versus Removal Man, written by Glenn Dakin, drawn by Pedro Espinosa, inked by Tim Perkins
A panel from Motormouth versus Removal Man, written by Glenn Daken and drawn by Tim Perkins
A panel from Motormouth versus Removal Man, written by Glenn Dakin, drawn by Pedro Espinosa, drawn by Tim Perkins
A panel from Motormouth versus Removal Man, written by Glenn Daken and drawn by Tim Perkins
A panel from Motormouth versus Removal Man, written by Glenn Dakin, drawn by Pedro Espinosa and inked by Tim Perkins
Motormouth versus Removal Man – Two Issue Series
Writer: Glenn Dakin
Penciller: Pedro Espinosa
Inker: Tim Perkins

When a page from this unpublished story was offered on eBay in 2014 it the light on a project strangely forgotten in the annals of Marvel UK – mirroring the story’s concept.

“I created Removal Man who was a MyS-TECH ‘last resort’ assassin who killed people by making it so they never existed in the first place,” recalled writer Glenn Dakin, who has copies of the first issue, which was fully lettered and drawn by Tim Perkins. “He went back and took Motormouth out of reality. Well he tried to, and he ended up being the one who never existed.

Featured in the  the art above are Removal Man and Scrueman, an insane Dickensian debt collector who handled MyS-TECH’s most lost causes (like trying to catch Harley). 

Tim Perkins has some pages of this first issue on his Wizards Keep web site

Project Gemini
Writer: Information Welcome
Artist: Salvador Larocca

Death’s Head II artist Larocca is noted as the artist on this project in a promotional brochure, Body Count, published by Marvel UK in 1993, but there are no more details about what it was or which characters featured in it.

REDMIST 2020
Writer: Alan Cowsill and Simon Jowett
Artist: Andrew Currie, Charlie Adlard (Dougie Braithwaite created a series of trading cars to promote this series)

Alternatively written 20/20. A six-part crossover planned for selected October and November 1993 titles. The participating titles were all cancelled and the crossover abandoned.

Red Mist: 2020 was a crossover made up of the first two issues of three four-issue mini-series,” Simon Jowett tells us. “Roid Rage (written by Alan Cowsill, art by Andrew Currie), Death Duty (also written by Alan) and Blood Rush (written by me with art by Charlie Adlard). Each mini-series concluded in their two post-crossover issues. Art for all four issues of Blood Rush was completed (because that Adlard is a machine), but I have no idea how much was lettered or where the pages may have ended up.”

• More info: http://starlogged.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/marvel-uk-in-usa-part-two.html


 

The Cover of Roid Rage #1 - which was at the printers when the book was cancelled
The Cover of Roid Rage #1 – which was at the printers when the book was cancelled. With thanks to Alan Cowsill

Roid Rage Inks #1 Page 3

Roid Rage Inks

 

Roid Rage Inks

Sample pages from the unpublished Roid Rage. Art by Andrew Currie and Bryan Hitch. The series was cancelled just as the first issue reached the printers.
Sample pages from the unpublished Roid Rage. Art by Andrew Currie and Bryan Hitch. The series was cancelled just as the first issue reached the printers.
RoidRage
Writer: Alan Cowsill
Art: Andrew Currie and Bryan Hitch

A Super Soldiers spin off Marvel UK were planning back in the day that, former editor Alan Cowsill reports “got canned as the book was at the printers!

“It was all part of the Red Mist saga. It’s also the first time Agent Keller, a character who re-surfaced in Revolutionary War,  appeared… he didn’t last long though!”

Chris Halls, who was was production designer on Alien 3, did some promotional art for the series.

More info: http://starlogged.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/marvel-uk-in-usa-part-two.html

Sisters of Grace (Frontier title)
Writer: Simon Jowett
Artist: Information Welcome

Described by Michael Bennent as “humour-based title about six hot babes in space.”

“I was slated to write both Sisters of Grace (they had appeared very briefly in Black Axe),” Simon Jowett recalls, “but had only written a few pages of each when the final hammer fell.”

Warhide
Writer: Jeremy Banx & David Leach
Artist: Carles Demiguel Bonilla

Marvel UK 'Lost Character' Warhide
A striking image from the unpublished Warhide series.
Warhide was the world’s first skinned communist super hero – a Russian captured by the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, skinned, then coated in a liquid carbon skin that’s as strong as diamond so you can see all his muscles.

“That was plotted, books 1 – 3 written, book 1 was drawn and inked, and book 2 was pencilled, before it was canned, recalls David Leach. “It was also advanced solicited, and the first cover was artworked.”

More info:
Lost in Action: Marvel UK’s Warhide
It Came from Darkmoor: Death’s Head which Almost Was – interview with David Leach


1994

• Dark Guard: Old Friends
Writer: Dan Abnett?
Art: Carlos Pacheo
Inks: Mark Farmer

Announced in Comics International #38 for publication in April 1994 but subsequently cancelled.  This may have included material originally planned for Dark Guard #5-6. “This story and a double Dark Guard issue, inked by Mark Farmer,” recalls Carlos Pacheo. “It remained unpublished after Marvel UK cancelled the comic-book line. I completed three issues that never saw the light of day.”

Death Duty

Writer: Information Welcome
Artist: José Fonteriz

Promoted in Body Count and solicited in Marvel Age #130  in November 1993 but subsequently delayed (as reported in Comic World Issue 22, December 1993) and then cancelled. Fonteriz did draw Nocturne, published by Marvel US (see above).

Kill Frenzy – Four issue series
Writer: Bambos Georgiou
Art: Henry Flint

An assassin of mixed parentage (alien, animal and human) is doomed to perpetually wander the galaxy in search of potential victims. Announced as a four issue limited series, intended to launch in February 1994.

More info: http://starlogged.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/marvel-uk-in-usa-part-two.html

Motormouth

Several other Motormouth projects were planned but abandoned by Marvel UK, including Motormouth Remix, an alternative take on the Marvel Universe in which Spider-Man is a Vietnam Vet, The Punisher is an evangelist and Captain America as a sadistic villain. 

In 2017, artist Jesus Redondo posted these Pages featuring Motormouth and Death’s Head II, but he couldn’t remember which project they were for…

Announced as launching in March 1994 but subsequently cancelled, Motormouth Remix was written by Rafael Marin and Carlos Pacheco and drawn by Carlos, whose first comics work for Marvel was at Marvel UK, first drawing Exploits of Spider-Man covers and then a short Motormouth strip for Motormouth & Killpowr #12, written by Matthew Hyde.

“We tried to connect the Marvel UK characters, mainly Motormouth and Killpower, to the American Marvel Universe,” Carlos recalls. “A story where Killpower was lost in the multiverse and Motormouth was jumping form different parallel realities looking for him.”

Another Motormouth-related project was Removal Man versus Motormouth, written by Glenn Dakin with art from Pedro Espinosa.

More info: http://starlogged.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/marvel-uk-in-usa-part-two.html

Officer Outbody, a creation for Marvel UK by Glenn Dakin and Ross Dearsley
Officer Outbody, a creation for Marvel UK by Glenn Dakin and Ross Dearsley
Officer Outbody
Writer: Glenn Dakin
Art: Ross Dearsley

Solicited four issue mini-series for the 1993/94. Officer Outbody was to have been some kind of inter-dimensional/astral cop and Doctor Strange was to have played a part in his adventures. The announcement of delayed publication appeared in Comic World 22 (December 1993) and then cancelled when Marvel UK pulled the US line completely.

“Officer Outbody grew out of the character Die-Cut,” Glenn Dakin recalls of the abandoned project. “Paul Neary showed me a picture of a big guy with a blade that could cut through anything, and asked me to invent an identity for him (this was early in 1993). I thought it would be good if the blade cut through dimensions, and came up with the idea of an ‘astral plane patrolman’.”

“I did quite a few development sketches, but I think I only completed two pages in ink before the project was cancelled,” Ross recalls. “Jaqui Papp was the Editor I think.

“It was a very surreal story set in the Astral Plane where Outbody was a policeman. Doctor Strange was the obligatory ‘known’ Marvel character cameo, and there were tons of wierd BG elements like floating architecture, eye-ball creatures and starfields.”

There’s more about this project here on downthetubes


 

A previously-unpublished artwork by Richard Piers Rayner featuring Marvel UK's "Dark Angel" and The Punisher.
A previously-unpublished artwork by Richard Piers Rayner featuring Marvel UK’s “Dark Angel” and The Punisher.
Punisher versus Death;'s Head: art by Bryan Hitch
Punisher versus Death;’s Head: art by Bryan Hitch
Punisher versus Death’s Head – Four issue series
Writer: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Art: Bryan HitchAnnounced for first-quarter 1994. In 2014, artist Richard Piers Rayner uncovered what we think is a piece of promotional art that might have been intended for this project featuring Dark Angel and the Punisher. Read our news story here.

More info: http://starlogged.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/marvel-uk-in-usa-part-two.html

Stuart Jennet's cover for Ripwire #1
Stuart Jennett’s cover for Ripwire #1
Ripwire
Writer: Craig Huston
Art: Stuart Jennett

A four-issue mini series from Craig and Stuart, who worked on later issues of Warheads, The book’s release was pushed back in late 1993 (as reported in Comics World Issue 22 (December 1993), and then cancelled.
Craig recalls the story was originally a self-contained two parter, but was extended to include an appearance by the Warheads.

S.T.O.M.P.
Writer: David Leach

Series about a teenager in a nano-tech power suit. “That only got as far as being green lit as a character, before it was canned,” David Leach recalls.

More info: http://itcamefromdarkmoor.blogspot.co.uk/2010/11/deaths-head-which-almost-was-interview.html

Red Squirrel Man
Creator: Tom de Falco

“There was an attempt – on the instructions of Tom DeFalco – to develop an all British super hero to be called Red Squirrel Man,” says former Marvel UK editor David Leach.

More info: http://itcamefromdarkmoor.blogspot.co.uk/2010/11/deaths-head-which-almost-was-interview.html

Timestryke: 2050
Writer: Information Welcome
Artist: Information Welcome

Minion’s creator, Dr. Necker, is dying. Her only salvation is to find Badhand. (source: the Bulldog Bulletin in the back of the Frontier Comics Special)

Total Death
Writer: Information Welcome
Artist: Information Welcome

All we know of this at this stage is a line from the “Editor’s Choice” of the Frontier Comics Special from editor Stuart Bartlett.

Unknown ‘Prestige Project’
Writer: Information Welcome
Artist: Simon Coleby

Mentioned in the 1993 Body Count promotion.

Wild Things
Writer: Nick Vince
Art: Pino Rinaldi

Although not published in English, this story was apparently published in Italian (see above).

1994 Core Relaunch

A four-book relaunch of the Marvel UK range Paul Neary planned in 1994.

Captain Britain
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Andrew Currie

Part of a four-book relaunch of the Marvel UK range Paul Neary planned in 1994. “I’m pretty sure Dan was given the Captain Britain assignment,” Simon Jowett recalls. “At least one script was written and Andrew Currie drew some pages.”

More info: http://itcamefromdarkmoor.blogspot.co.uk/2010/11/deaths-head-which-almost-was-interview.html

Death’s Head Quorum – ongoing series
Writer: David Leach
Art: Simon Coleby

Death’s Head II revamp. “Book one was fully written,” David Leach recalls. “I write full scripts, not Marvel scripts, so it came in at I think 40 odd pages in length. The series was loosely plotted and book two was in note form. Simon Coleby was hired as the artist, but never got a chance to drawn a single panel. Alas all that remains are a couple of notebooks.”

More info: http://itcamefromdarkmoor.blogspot.co.uk/2010/11/deaths-head-which-almost-was-interview.html

Night Raven Project
Writer: Alan Grant Artist: Doug Brauithwaite

A1 co-creator and comics publisher Dave Elliott recalls another Night Raven-related project (in addition to Nocturne, which was published by Marvel US (see above), which was going to be “written by Alan Grant, penciled by Doug Braithwaite and inked by myself,” he recalls in a post to the Make Mine Marvel UK Facebook group in September 2013. “I think Night Raven was involved somehow but it was not going to be his title.”

The Golden Grenadier, an unpublished Marvel UK charater. Two issues were completed.
The Golden Grenadier, an unpublished Marvel UK character. Two issues were completed. Art by Adolfo Buylla
The Golden Grenadier
Writer: Tim Quinn
Art: Adolofo Buylla and John Watkiss

Part of a four-book relaunch of the Marvel UK range Paul Neary planned in 1994. It seems there were two aspects to this project, with Adofo Buyalla providing art for the historical stories and John Watkiss art for more contemporary tales.

Recalls Tim Quinn on Facebook’s Make Mine Marvel UK group: “The Golden Grenadier. Period: The Fifties. By day he was a grenadier guardsman outside Buckingham Palace. He was also Britain’s first astronaut. He worked for a covert organisation run by … wait for it … The Queen Mother.

“We had two issues written and drawn and ready to be coloured when Marvel UK started sinking into the sunset. Interestingly for Marvel fans, one of the issues featured Tim Boo Ba and Fin Fang Foom.”

That the Golden Grenadier does not look unlike Marvel UK Editor in Chief at the time Paul Neary has not gone unnoticed: it was deliberate, says Tim. “Paul had that clean-cut Fifties square jawed hero about him (albeit with more than a touch of Victor Von Doom bubbling under the surface).

Adolfo Buylla was a veteran artist who had been used by Marvel UK on James Bond Jr and Knights of Pendragon Volume 2. “I think this is the mini series where Adolfo supplied the art for the 1950s version and John Watkiss was going to supply the art for the modern gritty section,” recalls ex-Marvel UK editor Bambos Georgiou.

Buylla, whose credits include the ‘Flash Gordon’-like Diego Valor series in the 1950s, Marvel’s Chiller Giant and work for DC Comics, Gold Key and 2000AD, died in 1998.


Useful Links

• It Came From Darkmoor: http://itcamefromdarkmoor.blogspot.co.uk
Terrific blog about Marvel UK and British Marvel heroes

• Starlogged: http://starlogged.blogspot.co.uk
Charting the history of many British comics, including their promotion. The site has a fantastic list of every Marvel UK title published, in choronological order, here

Comics Pending – January 1993
This document outlines some of the unpublished comic strips planned for Overkill, and my thoughts on the future of some of the company’s title such as Motormouth and Warheads, in January 1993, when I was in the process of leaving the company to take up life as a freelancer. The company was absorbed by Panini UK in 1995 and is no longer in business.
The hand-written notes refer to “Paul” – Paul Neary, Marvel UK’s Editorial Director; and editors Tim Quinn, Jacqui Papp and Bambos Georgiou.

Special thanks to…

Alan Cowsill, David Elliott, Carl Flint, Glenn Dakin, Alan Green, Richard Green, David Leach, Tim Quinn, Simon Jowett, Mark Roberts, John Ross, Cam Smith, and others for help assembling this page

9 thoughts on “British Publishers | Marvel UK | “Genesis ’92”: Looking Back and What Might Have Been

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  • May 25, 2014 at 8:25 pm
    Permalink

    I’m just going through my Marvel UK collection looking to see which gaps I need to fill. This article is extremely useful.

    I would like to point out that Cyberspace 3000 does not appear to be part of the Frontier imprint, since it just features the usual Marvel UK logo.

    There’s also some information on the unpublished Red Mist 20/20 titles in the Bulldog Bulletin at the back of the Frontier Comics Special. Plus a line about the unpublished Time Stryke in the Marvel UK Check List:

    “Time Stryke: 2050 – Minion’s creator, Dr. Necker, is dying. Her only salvation is to find Badhand.”

    And in the Editor’s Choice section Stuart Bartlett says “Never mind this *$£@ month, TOTAL DEATH hits next month!” I have no idea what this refers to.

      • June 5, 2014 at 10:30 pm
        Permalink

        A couple of notes:

        – I think Knights of Pendragon ran for 15 issues, not 16.

        – Death Metal versus Genetix started in December 1993 to tie in with the ‘Gene Pool’ promotion (several titles with ‘Gene’ in the title and including trading cards). So it actually ran alongside ‘Genetix’ rather than the earlier ‘Codename: Genetix’.

        Who said Marvel UK could be convoluted? 🙂

        • June 6, 2014 at 4:09 pm
          Permalink

          And, of course, it’s “Knights of Pendragon II” – amends done. Cheers!

  • June 24, 2014 at 5:06 pm
    Permalink

    Dark Guard: Old Friends must have been the intended Dark Guard Gold announced at the end of Dark Guard #4:

    “Follow the adventures of Dark Guard in the forthcoming 48 page Dark Guard Gold.”

    The ‘Gold’ must have been inspired by Death’s Head II Gold. I wonder if it was just intended as a one-off to complete the story, or if the idea was to be a quarterly like DH II Gold?

  • June 25, 2014 at 11:10 am
    Permalink

    There’s an editorial in #1 of Warheads: Black Dawn which makes reference to two more planned Warheads mini series:

    “The ongoing series had it’s fair run over fourteen issues… There are no less than two more mini series in the works right now who will be coming your way sometime in 1993.”

    I wonder if one of those mini-series would have been Loose Cannons or not? (Since Loose Cannons was a spin-off and not the main Warheads troop).

    I’m also slightly confused about the dates on the cover of Black Dawn. The story takes place after #14 of the main run and the editorial says how the main run has finished. But the cover dates of Black Dawn are July & August 1993. #13 and #14 of the main run are also July & August 1993.

    I know that the cover dates of comics don’t match the month in which they’re actually released. But it suggests that #1 of Black Dawn was released before #14 of Warheads (which would have spoiled the ending of that issue). I wonder if Black Dawn was held back to avoid this? It’d be nice to know the actual shipping dates.

  • July 6, 2014 at 6:40 pm
    Permalink

    Because of this list by @johnfsfreeman:disqus I have now been able to complete my Marvel UK Genesis 92 collection. So thank you for that.

    At some point in the future (not just yet) I might be tempted to do a bit of amateur analysis of release patterns of these titles. If I do, I’d probably join the forum to post my thoughts.

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