Marvel’s iconic web-slinger, the Amazing Spider-Man, has been part of numerous crossovers including a fan-favorite anime franchise.
The history of comic books has some exciting moments and some of those moments occurred behind the scenes. Those events yielded some unexpected but interesting results. A great example of this came in the ’70s and ’80s when Marvel Comics decided to control the trend of reprinting comics thanks to the unique company, Marvel UK, and its impact on the comic book market overseas. But for all the good it had done for UK readers, it resulted in some strange stories being paired with classic characters.
Marvel UK was a big player in bringing characters such as Iron Man and the Hulk to overseas readers and helped make its characters widely known to millions. But there were many factors that created the curious history involving these stories. For starters, reprints were great for readers who had never gotten a chance to read the stories upon release. But as Marvel UK (which was largely unsupervised by Marvel Comics) became more focused on reprints, it caused considerable gaps in new releases. As a result, solutions were quickly constructed involving unlikely creations. One of the most interesting involved a brand of toys known as Zoids sharing a book with none other than Spider-Man.
How Did Zoids Join Spider-Man?
Zoids is a toy line based in Japan that allowed fans to create mechanized animals. These animals could then battle it out as fans add and subtract various weapons and armor. It was an inventive line that was ahead of its time for many markets, especially in the US, where the toy line was named Robo-Strux. Like the early years of Transformers, there were no mediums tied to the toy line for audiences outside of Japan to connect with. As a result, Marvel UK decided to create its own story, marking the first time the series had a medium outside Japan until the anime it inspired in 1999.
Marvel UK, focusing heavily on promoting reprints at the time, created a situation where the releases of newer Marvel stories were delayed. As a result, the company had to fill in the gaps. In the case of Spider-Man stories, the Wall-Crawler shared a book with Zoids, giving birth to Spider-Man and Zoids. The series would include reprints of Spider-Man stories and original narratives by soon-to-be-famous creators such as Grant Morrison.
Marvel UK Made Zoids a Hidden Comic Book Gem
While The Amazing Spider-Man wasn’t the only series that suffered from varying release schedules in the UK, it was the one that suffered the most gaps between issues. As a result, stories like Zoids became more important as a way to help bridge the gap between the next reprint. While the story had been about mechanical dinosaurs fighting for a while, the series would evolve thanks to writers like Grant Morrison, who offered an existential flair to the narrative. In fact, after the book’s tenure with Spider-Man came to an end, there were talks that the Zoids story would continue in a monthly title. However, this wouldn’t come to pass as the series ended with Spider-Man.
With Zoids not hitting its stride with the anime in 1999, the comic series that Marvel UK published became a hidden gem in the industry. It was a series with a creative narrative that grew in maturity with each issue. It also helped make the wait between Spider-Man stories more bearable when reprints were few and far between. All in all, it showed just how unique but groundbreaking the reprint market was as it was the only time Spider-Man could share a space with such an unexpected narrative.