The Oddity of Astounding Stories' Marvel Reprints

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Marvel published just a single issue of Astounding Stories.



Reader Mike A. wrote in to ask, "I thought this was a comic with an unusual publishing history and wondered whether you might be interested in writing an article about it.

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According to the unofficial Marvel Database only one issue of Astounding Stories was published by Marvel (#152) which is a reprint of Steranko's Nick Fury #2.

I wonder why the run appears to have started and ended with its one hundred and fifty second issue."

Sure thing, Mike. Here's the deal - that comic was not actually published by Marvel Comics. It was published by a company called Alan Class Publishing.

Class, you see, was at the forefront of the British comic book industry in terms of importing American comic books to the British Isles. In 1959, Class cut a number of licensing deals with a few different comic book companies (National Comics, now known as DC, was a notable exception).

At the time, Marvel's most popular titles were science fiction and horror comics and that's precisely what Class concentrated in, including his most famous series, Astounding Stories, which launched with some Marvel comics reprints...

However, over the years, he also began reprinting superhero comics, as well...

By the late 1960s, though, Marvel had cut a deal with a different company to publish their comics in England. Class, though, just kept on publishing the comics without a license. Since he couldn't get NEW comics, though, he would just reprint the same earlier comics again, with that Nick Fury reprint being the THIRD time that that particular issue was reprinted over the course of 12 years!

In issue #60 in 1970...

In issue #120 around 1976...

and the aforementioned #152, around 1980.

Eventually, there just wasn't a market for Class' comics, as Marvel Comics were a good deal more readily accessible in England by the 1980s, so why go for old reprints when you could just buy new comics? Class closed up shop in 1989, as a fascinating curiosity from British comic book history.

Thanks for the suggestion, Mike!


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