This is the first installment in a brand-new feature called “Turns Back the Page,” which is a look at interesting back-up stories from comic books. If you have suggestions for back-ups that you’d like to see me write about, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!
In the early 1970s, Marvel debuted Marvel UK, which was a company designed specifically to sell reprinted versions of Marvel’s US comic books in England. However, in 1976, they decided to branch out and begin doing ORIGINAL material for Marvel UK. They continued to do original material until Marvel UK folded in 1995 when Panini obtained the rights to publish Marvel Comics in England.
In England, comic books were released weekly, so they were short serialized stories that would combine to tell larger stories. Marvel’s comics would then be broken up into installments when reprinted. However, as they began doing original material, there was suddenly now a need for occasional short stories that could be slotted in when space was needed. So Marvel produced a number of short standalone stories that would be inserted into various titles (standalone so that they could be put in whenever needed without having to tie into anything).
The “problem” for Marvel is that they did not want to put this new material to waste in the United States, but there really weren’t a whole lot of good options in the late 1970s/early 1980s for back-up stories (this was still at a time when Marvel had well under 22 pages of story in any given comic book). One way that they solved this issue was to use their Treasury Editions. These were extra-large reprints of stories starring their most notable characters. Spider-Man got a bunch of them and, of course, when his TV series was on the air, so did the Hulk.
In 1980, they released Marvel Treasury Edition #26, which reprinted a few different Hulk stories, but also printed, for the first time in the United States, a Wolverine/Hercules back-up story!
Written by Jo Duffy with art by Ken Landgraf and George Perez, the story has Wolverine stewing at a bar…
(Whoa, don’t show them how much of a man you are. Put that thing away, Wolverine!)
When Hercules comes in a bar brawl ensues…
Hercules’ reaction to Wolverine’s claws is amazing!
Wolverine doesn’t take kindly to Hercules’ joviality, so they fight a little bit more and then it ends…
This was later shown to a larger audience in 1986 when Marvel reprinted it in a deluxe reprint edition of Wolverine’s first appearance in Incredible Hulk #180-181. It’s not like THAT was some big-selling comic book, either, so the story is still very little known.
Years later, Frank Tieri would use this as a general basis for a Wolverine/Hercules miniseries (the idea is that they continue to hang out at that same bar on occasion)…
Also, and this really doesn’t have anything to do with anything per se, but in an alternate reality (as part of Marvel’s Astonishing X-Men series), alternate reality versions of Hercules and Wolverine dated…
This is not technically Wolverine’s first solo story (I think technically he doesn’t have a solo story until Wolverine #1 – he’s by himself for most of X-Men #133, but not all of it) but it comes pretty darn close and it is an amazingly strange first “without the X-Men” story for the famous mutant.
Okay, that’s it for this installment! If you have a suggestion for a future edition of Turns Back the Page, drop me a line at email@example.com!
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