Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Back Issues - Marvel UK's "WARHEADS"

Surprisingly, a really good read.

A few years ago, while shopping for comics online, I bought a whole run of comicbooks that I knew absolutely nothing about (because I take risks like that). The series was called "Warheads" and it was published by Marvel UK from '92 to '93. It wasn't a lot of comics - the complete run was 14 issues + a 2 issue mini series. It wasn't even that the covers drew me in, because honestly I don't even think most of them look good. It took a long while before I got to reading them, but when I did, it turned out that they're actually pretty good. And if nothing else, definitely a whole lot better than 90% of the "proper" Marvel comics from the early '90s that I own and wouldn't dare to read now.

The Warheads are mercs working for a shady corporation called Mys-Tech (from what I understand, a common villain in most of the Marvel UK titles from that time). By means of a combination of technology and magic, they travel through time, space and other dimensions to retrieve technology or artifacts that their employers can use for producing new and advanced weaponry.
They are led by a scarred and ridiculously named guy called Colonel Tigon Liger (get it?). Most of the other members of the unit change from issue to issue - the idea is that they're expandable soldiers and pretty much every issue somebody dies. It's a bit like Suicide Squad or Thunderbolts, but unlike those two teams, the Warheads volunteered for their jobs and came to regret it later. Usually, such a high death ratio among the team would mean that there won't be time to develop interest in them and the relationships between them, but this isn't really the case here. This is a pretty diverse team (naturally, featuring some cliches) and the few characters who manage to survive are fun to read about. You never know who's gonna take the bullet and that's something I like.

This series had 5 artists, which is a lot for a short run, and the quality of art changes quite drastically (sometimes from issue to issue). The best artists on this title were Gary Erskine and Stuart Jennett, and their style fitted the dark/moody atmopshere of the book really well. The other pencillers ranged from bad to tolerable, but it's a well written series (writing credits go to Nick Vince, John Freeman and Craig Houston) and when art fails that's what still keeps you reading.

One other thing you'll notice when checking out the covers of those books is that there's quite a lot of "guest appearances" from the "American" Marvel heroes popular at the time (X-Force, Wolverine, Iron Man, X-Men and more). While I hate that type of stuff, it's actually used reasonably well most of the time and doesn't follow the usual "heroes meet, have a misunderstanding, fight each other and then team up" tradition. Half of the guest stars only show up for a moment and the other half aren't even the REAL heroes, just some dudes impersonating them! False advertising! But that's a good thing - the "guests" don't get in the way much, and that's how it should be. Also, the issue that features Wolverine is a really great one and uses him in a pretty original way.

Marvel UK realeased a shit ton of titles in the early 90s and they're all easily available on eBay, dirt cheap. From what I read on Wiki, most of them were actually quite good and the reason they were cancelled after the first year or two was that there were too many of them, basically flooding the market in a time when it was already oversaturated. It seems like there's an ad for 2 new Marvel UK series in every issue of "Warheads", so I can't say that surprises me.

Having enjoyed the "Warheads", I started wondering what the other Marvel UK titles were like (that's the only one I ever read). If you stumble upon this post and have read any of those series, let me know in the comments. In the meantime, I recommend "Warheads" if you're looking for something different to read - it's cheap, easy to get and it's an entertaining book with a lot of character.


  1. I remember you mentioning this series. You make it sound like something I want to read! lol

  2. That's good, man! I'm thinking about picking up Marvel UK's major event mini series called "Mys-Tech Wars". It has art by Brian Hitch and from what I understand, all the major American heroes are killed there and the UK heroes have to save the situation. The reason nobody talks about "Hey, remember the time we all died and the UK guys had to save the world?" is apparently because everything has been restored to normal once the UK guys won and only people like Charles Xavier remember the whole deal even happened.

  3. And Chuck is all like "Bitch, I don't remember that!"
    "Sure you do, we saved-"
    "nah, man, nah. You must be thinking of when the X-Men saved some shit. Now back off, man, I'm in a wheelchair."

    Do you remember that thing we came up with where Chuck Xavier is a dick? lol great times.

  4. Ha, that's what I was thinking too. I actually ordered that mini, will be reviewing it once I get it (it has to travel all the way from the left side of the map, though).

  5. Hey

    Just a note I thought Warheads was Brilliant Combining Sci-fi-Kabalistic Majik and Thief/Mercs who steal tech from the future.

  6. Thanks for reading Warheads! Glad you enjoyed the ride.