Marvel UK: “Genesis ’92” – Looking Back and What Might Have Been Part 01 – Published Comics 1992

Last Updated: 5th November 2020

Owing to increasing amount of information discovered about the later years of Marvel UK, our “Genesis 1992” section has now been broken up into more pages

Part 1 – Published Comics 1992 | Part 2 – Published Comics 1993 -1994 | Part 3 – Published Comics 1994 – 1995 | Part 4 – Frontier Comics | Part 5 – Unpublished Projects Developed during 1990 – 1991 | Part 6 – Unpublished Projects Developed during 1992 – 1993 | Part 7 – Other Unpublished Projects Developed during 1993 | Part 8 – Unpublished Projects Developed during 1994 | Part 9 – 1994 (Marvel UK branded) Core Relaunch | Part 10 – Final Unrealised Projects 1994 – and a Postscript

Latest Updates

Recent additions to this section include information on Motormouth: RE-MIX from Carlos Paceho; images for the first Knights of Pendragon series and more from Bloodrush, with thanks to Adrian Clarke of GetMyComics; and recently added art from the unpublished 1994 Captain Britain project by Andrew Currie and Bryan Hitch, and the cover for Roid Rage #3, also by Andrew, also with thanks to Adrian Clarke, and Andrew Currie 

Marvel UK: “Genesis ’92” – Looking Back and What Might Have Been

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.

Left: Dermot Power's unused cover for Knights of Pendragon #15, and right, the published cover by Colin MacNeil. Gary Erskine recalls Dermot's cover was delayed, but he did provide the cover for #16. With thanks to Adrian Clarke
Left: Dermot Power’s unused cover for Knights of Pendragon #15, and right, the published cover by Colin MacNeil. Gary Erskine recalls Dermot’s cover was delayed, but he did provide the cover for #16. With thanks to Adrian Clarke

The Genesis: 1992 project built on the success of earlier projects master-minded by Richard Starkings – Dragon’s Claws (published June 1988 – April 1989), Death’s Head (debuting in late 1988), and The Sleeze Brothers (1989 – 1990), a creator-owned title by John Carnell and Andy Lanning – while editor Steve White oversaw the first critically acclaimed volume of Knights of Pendragon (1990–1991), written by Dan Abnett and John Tomlinson with art by Gary Erskine.

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 the second series of Knights of Pendragon (written by Dan Abnett and John Tomlinson, drawn by Phil Gascoine).

Dermot Power's poster rough for the free poster given away in early issues of Overkill. With thanks to Adrian Clarke
Dermot Power’s poster rough for the free poster given away in early issues of Overkill. With thanks to Adrian Clarke

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.

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).

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
Ongoing series, ran for 15 issues
Writers: Dan Abnett & John Tomlinson
Art: Phil Gascoine

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

After I left Marvel UK to go freelance, I was commissioned to create a new Knights of Pendragon series, and submitted a proposal, but never had a response from the editors involved or Paul Neary. I’ve no idea why.

Two pages from the the Warheads story "Questions and Answers", writer Scott Gray's first superhero strip for Marvel UK, pencilled by Charlie Adlard and inked by Adolfo Buylla. The strip first appeared in Overkills and then ran as a back up strip in Warheads #9
Two pages from the the Warheads story “Questions and Answers”, writer Scott Gray’s first superhero strip for Marvel UK, pencilled by Charlie Adlard and inked by Adolfo Buylla. The strip first appeared in Overkills and then ran as a back up strip in Warheads #9

Warheads
Ongoing series, ran for 14 issues, plus a two-issue mini-series, Warheads: Black Dawn
Writers: Nick Vince, John Freeman, Craig Houston
Art: Gary Erskine, Simon Coleby, Stuart Jennett
Editor: John Freeman

Mercenaries in the hire of MyS-TECH explore the multiverse and plunder it for relics, weaponry and technology that can be exploited by their immortal employers.

The series was inspired by Paul Neary’s love of Frederick Pohl’s Gateway SF novels, but Warheads is a much darker take on the idea of inter-spatial, random space jumps which of course was also been explored later in the Stargate films and TV series.

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

After the Hells Angels challenged the use of “Hell’s Angel” as a comic title, the character was re-named Dark Angel and a frantic trademarking of the initial “Genesis 92” characters was instigated. The trademarks for Death’s HeadKnights of Pendragon and Warheads for use as comics tiles by Marvel Comics Ltd. lapsed in 2000. The characters of course remain Marvel copyright.

Dark Angel by John McCrea
Dark Angel by John McCrea. This isn’t a Dark Angel or Overkill cover, so we wonder what it was intended for

October 1992

Death's Head II #14 cover art by Liam Sharp and Andy Lanning. With thanks to Adrian Clarke of GetMyComics
Death’s Head II #14 cover art by Liam Sharp and Andy Lanning. With thanks to Adrian Clarke of GetMyComics

Death’s Head II
Ongoing series, ran for 16 issues. Issues 17-19 were solicited but never published
Writer: Dan Abnett
Art: Liam Sharp and others including Simon Coleby
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.

Death’s Head II #19 - Unpublished Art
Death’s Head II #19 – Unpublished Art
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 issue limited series
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

Battletide - Overkill Special 1993
The only Overkill special – re-publishing the first Battletide mini series

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.

Owing to increasing amount of information discovered about the later years of Marvel UK, our “Genesis 1992” section has now been broken up into more pages

Part 1 – Published Comics 1992 | Part 2 – Published Comics 1993 -1994 | Part 3 – Published Comics 1994 – 1995 | Part 4 – Frontier Comics | Part 5 – Unpublished Projects Developed during 1990 – 1991 | Part 6 – Unpublished Projects Developed during 1992 – 1993 | Part 7 – Other Unpublished Projects Developed during 1993 | Part 8 – Unpublished Projects Developed during 1994 | Part 9 – 1994 (Marvel UK branded) Core Relaunch | Part 10 – Final Unrealised Projects 1994 – and a Postscript

Marvel UK: Useful Links

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

• Starlogged: 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 chronological order, here

• A Distant Beacon

The web presence of author Rob Kirby, who’s working on a book on the history of Marvel UK, From Cents to Pence

Comics Pending – January 1993

This document compiled by John Freeman outlines some of the unpublished comic strips planned for Overkill, and his thoughts on the future of some of the company’s title such as Motormouth and Warheads, in January 1993, when he was in the process of leaving the company to take up life as a freelancer.

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

This section is compiled with thanks to: Adrian Clarke, Alan Cowsill, Andrew Currie, David Elliott, Carl Flint, Glenn Dakin, Alan Green, Richard Green, Rob Kirby, David Leach, Carlos Pacheco, Tim Quinn, Simon Jowett, Mark Roberts, John Ross, Cam Smith, and others

7 replies

  1. 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.

    • Thanks for this – all helping build the page!

      • 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? 🙂

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

  2. 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?

  3. 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.

  4. 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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