The lesser-known of Marvel's toy masterpieces - but still the better comic, compared with things like Madballs
, or Air Raiders
, for those who remember those classics - Zoids
was a Marvel UK comic that started as a series of inserts in the pages of the British Secret Wars
reprint series before going on to share pagespace and the title with Marvel's own Mickey Mouse in Spider-Man and Zoids
. Essentially ripping off Ridley Scott's Alien
but adding in robotic dinosaurs, the original incarnation of the series by Ian Rimmer and Kev Hopgood was a surprisingly dark comic that gleefully reminded young readers on a regular basis that every victory was shortlived, and that love couldn't conquer all, especially if "all" was defined by giant robot dinosaurs.
Things only got better when a young Grant Morrison took over the writing, adding in an thread of epic weirdness that hinted at heights he'd reach much later with The Invisibles. Ably assisted by artists including his future Zenith co-creator Steve Yeowell, Morrison's Zoids was shaping up to a grand showdown between the remaining human cast and the unstoppable "Black Zoid" - Imagine Alien's Ash, but melded to a giant robot dinosaur - when Spider-Man and Zoids was cancelled. A follow-up series, entirely dedicated to Zoids was promised, but never materialized, a truly sad (lack of) ending to what had been an enjoyable merging of classic Marvel toy tie-in and 2000AD's sci-fi-punk-mashup sensibilities.
As the speculator boom took over comics in the early 1990s, the demographics of comics seemed to shift, just as toy companies became more reticent to launch all-new, original and non-licensed material. The two circumstances collided, and Marvel's toy heyday ended, leaving behind five classic series that were much better than they had any right to be - and thousands of fanboys wishing that someone could get the rights to put them into trade paperbacks so we could all re-read them again.