Panini UK Launches 'Marvel Heroes' with All-New Strips
by Benjamin Ong Pang Kean
Date: 09 October 2008 Time: 11:16 AM ET
Panini UK Ltd, the U.K. division of the Panini Group, today launches Marvel Heroes, a new all-ages Marvel comic in the U.K. featuring new exclusive comic strips.The format for Marvel Heroes is similar to its highly acclaimed children's comic, Spectacular Spider-Man, which had also published original stories such as the fan-favorite Spider-Man/Captain Britain team-up that was reprinted in Marvel Milestones: Captain Britain, Psylocke and Golden Age Sub-Mariner in the US in 2005. Each 36-page issue will have two seven-page “kick-ass” comic strips. So, is this Panini's answer to Marvel U.S.' Marvel Adventures line then? “Only really in as much as it will be aimed at the same age group,” said Ed Hammond, editor of Marvel Heroes. “Personally, I’m a big fan of the Marvel Adventures comics and think they’re a real step forward by Marvel towards getting younger readers back into comics. “Seven pages is always a tricky length for a strip [because] you really have to hit the ground running and don’t have a lot of space for exposition or in depth character moments,” Hammond, who is art editor of the Spectacular Spider-Man and reprint editor of the Marvel Pocketbooks explained. “[In] issue #1 we’ve got a cracking Iron Man story by Scott Gray, best known for his Dr. Who work and The Fin Fang Four, with pencils by a young Spanish artist called Carlos Gomez and inks by Gary Erskine. There’s also a Hulk story by Al Ewing, with artwork by John McCrea. Other artists and writers lined up for future issues include James Peaty, Giovanni Spinella, Neil Edwards and Kev Hopgood. Even though Panini’s got free reign over which Marvel characters to feature, the focus for the first few issues will be on characters that are more well-known to children “due to recent movies/animated series i.e. Spidey, X-Men, Hulk, Iron Man and Fantastic Four. But after that we will probably have a lot more team-up strips to really exemplify the idea that all these heroes exist in the same Universe,” he said. “With the early issue stories we’re really trying to create tales that capture the essence of the character featured. It’s true that a lot of kids in the UK don’t really know any Marvel characters past say Spidey, Wolverine and Iron Man, so we really want new readers to go away from a strip with an understanding of what that character is all about. “Probably once we’re past issue #5, we’ll start dropping in a few of the less well-known characters. And of course, being a U.K. title, it would be just plain rude of us not to have a Captain Britain story in there somewhere...” Hammond also said that there isn’t any plan to introduce any new characters at the moment. “I think Marvel have got something like 6000 licensed characters all together, so we should have more than enough to be going on with for the time being.” The Panini Group had in 2006 renewed and expanded upon their publishing agreement with Marvel Comics as a master license for Europe and selected Latin American countries to translate and publish all comics, trade paperbacks, graphic novels, encyclopaedias and art books released by Marvel in the United States. It also included an ambitious expansion of editorial projects where Panini produced new content under the creative supervision of Marvel. Stories like Wolverine: Saudade by Jean-David Morvan and Philippe Buchet had been translated and reprinted in the US while the English version of Daredevil & Captain America: Dead On Arrival by Tito Faraci and Claudio Villa is currently scheduled to hit stores in November. Chris Claremont and Milo Manara’s “Women of the X-Men” project is still under production.