Super Spider-Man with the Super-Heroes (#166, Marvel UK 1976) – Various

3 out of 5

The UK reprint mag, collecting 70s issues of The Amazing Spider-Man #117 (Gerry Conway, Stan Lee), half of Dr. Strange #6 (Archie Goodwin), a Man-Thing vs. Werewolf by Night 2-page pull-out (I’m horrible at spotting artists – maybe Jim Mooney?), half of The Invincible Iron-Man #11 (Archie Goodwin), half of Marvel Two-in-One #8 (Steve Gerber), and half of Thor #179 (Stan Lee).

So: this seems very much like a hodge-podge of material. There’s maybe an attempt to have some strips that are tangential to Spider-Man, and maybe also an attempt to give as wide a mix of stars as possible – which the ish does – but nonetheless, I feel like this would’ve been a maddening way to read comics. I mean, it’s undeniably a deal – I think the cover price of 9p. would’ve equated to a little less than a 20 cent cover-priced American mag from the same time, which means you’re getting about 3 issues for the price of 1 – albeit black and white and miniaturized, but still; however, the horizontal format and cheap-ass newsprint are just not a great reading experience. Plus, if I’m reading the editorial page right, it’s likely that all of these backup strips were inconsistent, meaning if you were digging on Iron-Man or so-and-so in particular, you might find that hustled to another UK mag the following week.

I dunno. As a kid, continuity wasn’t very important to me, so, again, getting a good chunk of reading material for cheap – especially if that was the only / easiest way to read US comics – I can imagine being excited by one of these issues. At the same time, the general low-impact of the strips featured in this particular issue (most of them are non-starters without much happening, being the first half of stories – excepting Thor’s bit being a latter half, but that’s clunked up by poor ye olde language and some lower-tier Kirby art), in addition to that hodge-podge feeling, probably would’ve given me an “this book is okay” sentiment, even as a less scrutinizing youngster.

Historically, it’s interesting to note how this stuff was fitted to the format / market though, requiring reworked covers, title pages, and credits (to, I assume, minus out the color credit). It’d be fascinating to know more about that process.