Marvel UK – Genesis ’92: Part 05 – Unpublished Projects Developed during 1990 – 1991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 chainsword-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
Four Issue Mini Series
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 featured in the digital anthology Biodegradable, drawn by Bill Storie

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

• It Came From Darkmoor:
Terrific blog about Marvel UK and British Marvel heroes

• Starlogged:
Charting the history of many British comics, including their promotion. Items include…

The (Almost) Complete History of Marvel UK from 1972 to 1996
A chronological overview of the ongoing series published between 1972 and 1996 or thereabouts.  There’s plenty that will surprise all but the most ardent collectors of the British Bullpen.

• Marvel UK in the USA
From the late 1980s onwards, and peaking with the ‘Genesis’ line in 1992-94, the British Bullpen made various excursions across the Atlantic in the hopes of gaining a foothold.  The occasional incursions (like Death’s Head and G.I. Joe European Missions) became a deluge… which ended suddenly with the behind-the-scenes Genesis Massacre. 
Read Marvel UK in the USA – From A to Die | Marvel UK in the USA – Part Two

• 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: Michael Carroll, 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