A Guide To Marvel’s Unannounced 1970s Reprint Issues

It was the scourge of the decade, and virtually every comic book collector of the period experienced it on one occasion or another. You would go to your local newsstand outlet, drug store or convenience store that stocked a spinner rack, pick through it to find exciting new releases, then pay for your books and take them home–only to discover that, behind an all-new cover, rather than the next chapter of the ongoing adventures of a favorite character, there was instead a reprinted story from the not-too-distant past! You had been snoockered out of your 15, 20, 25, 30 cents and tricked into buying a book that you didn’t want, and a story that you may already have read. This was the curse of the Marvel Unannounced Reprint.

Why did this happen? The answer is obvious: somebody in the supply chain missed a deadline, and because there was a need to hit a title’s press time, the editor in question had no choice but to substitute a reprinted story in its place–a situation that was often referred to in typical Stan Lee style as the “Dreaded Deadline Doom.”. This process started out slowly, but by the mid-1970s it reached pretty epidemic proportions, with certain titles running reprints a few times over the course of only a couple of months. Nobody liked it–not the editors, and certainly not the fans.

A few different attempts were made at different points to stem this tide of last-minute reprints. When he was briefly Marvel’s editor, Marv Wolfman added a series on the schedule called MARVEL FILL-IN COMICS. Written largely by Bill Mantlo, its remit was to create an evergreen story every month that could potentially be slotted into a number of different titles should something fall behind. So, for example, the story that saw print in AVENGERS #163 in which Iron Man and the Beast battled the Champions and Typhon could just have easily run in an issue of IRON MAN or CHAMPIONS. These generally weren’t anybody’s favorite stories since they couldn’t advance any subplots or situations, but they were better than getting reprints. The problem was that this still didn’t allow for universal coverage, and so emergency reprints were still needed and plugged into the system.

A perfectly fine issue of AVENGERS…or IRON MAN…or CHAMPIONS

It wasn’t until the era of Jim Shooter as Marvel’s Editor in Chief that the scourge of the unannounced reprint was vanquished completely. Part of this was simply that Shooter instituted the modern editorial system, based on the DC model, where there are multiple editors each overseeing only a few titles under the direction of the Editor in Chief, rather than a single Editor who was responsible for all of it, as had been the case since the days of Stan Lee. But Jim also required those new editors to commission and keep on hand at least one inventory story for every ongoing series that could be slotted into a given book should it fall too far behind schedule.

Here, then, is a listing of all of the Unannounced Reprint Issues (assuming that I didn’t miss any of them in my research.)

*NOT BRAND ECHH #10 – This was a reprint in the run of a title, but not really unannounced. The issue was cover blurbed as THE WORST OF NOT BRAND ECHH. But it does represent the first time that Marvel dropped a full reprint into what up until then and thereafter had been a new title.

*THOR #158 – Doesn’t completely count, as the reprint of the first Thor story which makes up the latter half of this issue was likely inserted for aesthetic reasons, as this was the first of two parts that endeavored to explain whether Don Blake was a real person or just a cover identity for Thor.

DR STRANGE #179 – The very first unscheduled reprint, with a new cover by Barry Smith and reprinting the Spider-Man story guest-starring Doctor Strange from AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #2

SGT FURY #80 – At this moment and for the next couple of years, SGT FURY became a half-reprint series. Every other issue was a reprint (sometimes two-part stories would be separated by a new issue in-between them.) This change in the status of SGT FURY caused Dick Ayers to sue Marvel over lost wages, as he insisted that he was being forced to compete with his own old work and not being paid for it. After this matter was settled, the creators on reprinted stories got a small reprint fee when they were run again.

RAWHIDE KID #80 – Same situation as SGT FURY, and it lasted the same timeframe. From this point on for the next couple of months, every other issue of RAWHIDE KID would contain a reprint behind a new cover.

SGT FURY #82

RAWHIDE KID #82

RAWHIDE KID #84

SGT FURY #85

RAWHIDE KID #86

SGT FURY #87

SGT FURY #89

SGT FURY #91

SGT FURY #93

SGT FURY #95

SGT FURY #99

SGT FURY #101

SGT FURY #103

RAWHIDE KID #104

SGT FURY #105

SGT FURY #107

RAWHIDE KID #107

SGT FURY #109

SGT FURY #111

RAWHIDE KID #111

RAWHIDE KID #112

SGT FURY #113

CONAN #16 – Roy made the best of a bad situation here in the short-timer CONAN series by reprinting a story originally printed in the black and white SAVAGE TALES series in color–but not without having to go back into it and censor it a bit.

ASTONISHING TALES #14

CONAN #22 – Barry Smith craps out again, forcing Roy to reprint CONAN #1 from only 21 issues earlier.

*AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #116 – This three-parter re-used material originally created for SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN black and white magazine #1. But writer Gerry Conway rescripted part of it, bringing it into line with the continuity of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN at that point. So as a time-saving measure, it required a lot of work. It also means that Spider-Man fought the same villains in two slightly different ways at two different times.

*AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #117

AMAZING ADVENTURES #17

*AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #118

MARVEL FEATURE #8

MARVEL PREMIERE #11 – On occasion, the creative team would jam out a new opening and closing page to bracket the reprints and conceal them better, as in this instance. Steve Englehart seemed to have a lot of books that went last-minute reprint over the course of his time.

STRANGE TALES #175

DOCTOR STRANGE #3

CAPTAIN MARVEL #36

FANTASTIC FOUR #154

GHOST RIDER #10

CONAN #47

ASTONISHING TALES #29

AMAZING ADVENTURES #30

AVENGERS #136

IRON MAN #76

CONAN #64

AVENGERS #150 – The last minute reprint inserted in the back half of this anniversary issue was the breaking point between Englehart and Marvel, and they parted ways for the time being.

JUNGLE ACTION #23

LUKE CAGE, POWER MAN #36

INVADERS #10 – Roy Thomas delighted in reprinting vintage Golden Age material in INVADERS whenever an issue ran late.

MARVEL PRESENTS #8

THOR #254

DOCTOR STRANGE #21

INHUMANS #9

FANTASTIC FOUR #180

MASTER OF KUNG FU #53

PETER PARKER, SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #6

INVADERS #20 – Half of this issue reprinted the first Namor story from the recently-discovered MOTION PICTURE FUNNIES WEEKLY, which was a black and white book and thus allowed for decent reproduction.

CONAN #78

INVADERS #21

CAPTAIN AMERICA #216

FANTASTIC FOUR #189

INVADERS #24

19 thoughts on “A Guide To Marvel’s Unannounced 1970s Reprint Issues

  1. Wow Tom, do you remember those books being reprints or did you have to research to get such a large list? Either way. it’s an impressive piece of work. Kudos.

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  2. My first Avengers was #148, so when my five-year-old self missed #150 two months later, I was crushed. Then I picked up #151 and was very confused at how I didn’t miss anything, and “The Order Doth Changeth” didn’t change anything in the last issue. I wouldn’t get #150 until much much later.

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  3. I started reading Marvel comics in 1973. Since all of the reprints were new to me, it didn’t bother me so much. I had many of the books on this list.

    Captain Marvel #36 was a strange one. It was a reprint of his first appearance from Marvel Super Heroes, but as I later discovered, it was re-lettered. Artie Simek from the original was replaced by Joe Rosen, for some reason. Why go to that trouble? Was the file copy damaged?

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    1. Now that I look at the story for the first time in a long while, it’s not Rosen’s lettering–maybe Denise Wohl? And the reprint retained Artie’s lettering for the sound effects, and on the splash page. A bit of a mystery, for those into such minutiae.

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    2. My guess is that the had to source the story from an overseas reprint where the lettering had been scrubbed for localization. This happened once in a while— the X-Men #1 reprint in Son of Origins was done this same way.

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  4. As a kid I remember being distinctly annoyed at buying Fantastic Four #180 — with that interesting foursome of the Thing, Impossible Man, Tigra, and Thundra on the cover and instead getting a story about the Fantastic Four fighting the Maggia. It’s not that I’d seen that story before, but it wasn’t the story I paid money to read.

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  5. I got my copy of Avengers #163 signed by Jim Shooter and George Tuska at a comic con 21 years ago. I can’t remember why I specifically brought that issue to get signed, except perhaps since both of them were guests at the same show it occurred to me that they could both autograph it. As soon as I handed it to Shooter to sing he looked at me and said “This was a fill-in issue.” I think I told him I liked it anyway.

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    1. Funny thing about 163, it must have recently been completed, because Iron Man had spent most of the Seventies getting tossed around, until 159 and the Graviton storyline. But in 163 he took on Hercules and the other Champions and held his own.

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  6. Much like Hayden, I started reading comics during the Bronze Age, so for the most part, reprints were stories I’d never read before (remember that cynical old NBC promo: “If you haven’t seen it, it’s new to you?”). Still, it was always jarring to find one in the middle of a multi-issue story.

    On the other hand, there was a time when Gil Kane did nearly every Marvel cover for awhile, and speaking as a die-hard Kane fan, an unexpected reprint was often redeemed for me by a nifty Kane cover like Avengers #136 (even with those floating Romita heads in the background).

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  7. This is a very useful list, though I might add Amazing Adventures #30 to it—most of it is reprinted bits of #23 and 24, published barely a year earlier! (I’d also be very curious to learn which published issues were created for Marvel Fill-In Comics, and if there were completed issues of it that were never published…)

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    1. Added AMAZING ADVENTURES #30 and JUNBGLE ACTION #23 to the list/article, thanks! I suspect it would be too difficult to work out which stories had been done for MARVEL FILL-IN COMICS and which were simply fill-ins, but I can take a look at that at some point.

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  8. Hi Tom, will you be running a list of the fill-in stories as mentioned above?
    I know some were still outstanding and saw print in the Marvel Vault series among other places, but do you know if there are still some stories that have never been printed?

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  9. Marvel Presents 8 is a Guardians of the Galaxy Comic that is mostly a Silver Surfer reprint.

    It was the first (maybe only) classic GotG comic I got and it was a little disappointing. I was a big Legion fan and the Guardians seemed like the closest Marvel analog.

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  10. I’ve always wondered whether Spectacular Spider-Man Magazine #1 or Amazing Spider-Man #116-118 was the story that “counts” – they can’t really coexist.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. According to JM Straczynski, the reprints in 116 to 118 are the time that allowed Gwen Stacy to ‘do the dirty’ with Norman Osborn behind Peters back. So I guess from his point of view, that makes the magazine the story that counts. Me personally, I found that Gwen/Norman storyline an appalling mess that did no favours to the Gwen Stacy legacy, and should never have been written, let alone printed, but that’s just me.

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