Royal Mail will issue a Marvel Super Heroes set of stamps on March 14, marking the 80th anniversary of the famous comic stories.

Ten stamps sold in counter sheets illustrate popular characters, all facing the viewer in dynamic action poses. A further five stamps are contained in a miniature sheet which takes the form of a specially commissioned comic strip entitled Marvel Heroes UK, with a storyline loosely set in London.

Marvel is an American brand and most of the featured characters were originally created for an American audience; the two which weren’t are the least well known. All this leaves Royal Mail wide open to criticism for straying from British themes in the pursuit of a wider philatelic market.

The Marvel organisation grew out of Timely Comics, based in New York, which launched its first comic book in 1939. After being relaunched as Marvel Comics in 1961, it introduced a new range of characters which revitalised the popularity of superheroes.

An offshoot was Marvel UK, formed in 1972. Initially its comics simply repackaged American stories for a British audience, but in 1976 Captain Britain and Union Jack became its first superheroes created specifically for UK readers.

Marvel Entertainment was acquired by the Walt Disney Company in 2009.

The stamps are boldly illustrated by Alan Davis, one of Marvel’s British artists, designed by Interabang and printed in litho by  International Security Printers. The sheet stamps come in se-tenant strips of five.

1st class Spider-Man

Created in 1962, Spider-Man gained his web-slinging abilities after being bitten by a radioactive spider as a teenager, and swore to use his powers to help others.

1st class Captain Marvel

Created in 1977, from a pre-existing character in the Captain Mar-Vell stories, this female Avenger gained super powers after her DNA mixed with his during an explosion.

1st class Hulk

Created in 1962, the Hulk is a mild-mannered scientist who was bombarded by radiation from a gamma bomb, and as a result transforms into a muscle-bound green giant when angered.

1st class Doctor Strange

Created in 1963, Doctor Strange was a brilliant neuro-surgeon who became a master sorceror, protecting the world from evil forces, after his hands were badly damaged in a car crash.

1st class Captain Britain

Created in 1976, Captain Britain was chosen by Merlyn and granted amazing powers to be Britain’s protector, keeping his country safe from harm.

1st class Peggy Carter

Created in 1966, initially as an unnamed character in the Captain America stories, Peggy Carter is a heroine of the French Resistance in World War II, but has no superpowers.

1st class Iron Man

Created in 1963, Iron Man was a billionaire inventor captured by terrorists and forced to create weapons, but he tricked his captors by building a suit of armour to protect himself and defeat them.

1st class Union Jack

Created in 1976, Union Jack was originally an aristocratic soldier, whose mantle was later passed to a working-class hero. He has no special powers except extreme athleticism and a bullet-proof costume.

1st class Black Panther

Created in 1966, the Black Panther is the ruler of a technologically advanced African nation and protector of its valuable supply of vibranium, with his combat abilities enhanced by ancient rituals.

1st class Thor

Created in 1962, Thor is the Norse god of thunder, wielding an enchanted hammer which gives him superhuman reflexes and the ability to manipulate the weather.

 

MINIATURE SHEET

£1.45

Captain Britain spies a portal opening on top of one of London’s high-rise buildings.

1st class

Thanos, one of the most evil supervillains in the universe, emerges from the portal.

1st class

Leading a response by the superheroes, Thor, Doctor Strange and Iron Man deflect the arch-villain’s projection of cosmic energy.

1st class

The Hulk, Spider-Man, the Black Panther and Iron Man declare they are stronger than Thanos.

£1.25

With Captain Britain to the fore, the assembled superheroes win the day.

 

OTHER PRODUCTS

Illustrated by Marvel artist Neil Edwards, the presentation pack comes with a set of comic book-style stickers.

A press sheet of uncut miniature sheets and a choice of medal covers are available in addition to the usual stamp cards and first day covers.

 

PRICES

Set of 10 stamps   £6.70

Miniature sheet   £4.71

Press sheet   £93.25

Presentation pack   £12.15

Stamp cards   £7.20

First day cover (stamps)   £8.60

First day cover (mini sheet)   £6.20

Medal covers   from £24.99

 

VERDICT

COMMEMORATIVE WORTH   1/5

The Marvel brand and its best-known characters are American. Even the anniversary is a weak excuse for the issue

QUALITY OF DESIGN   3/5

The British illustrator is an established expert at dynamic images in the comic-book style

WOW FACTOR   3/5

It would be hard to ignore these images if any of them are postally used, but they do little to promote British culture or philately