HUNDREDS of comic books will be left on trains, buses and the underground to mark the 80th anniversary of Marvel Comics this week.

Commuters across the country will have the chance to pick up some of the world’s most memorable comics, including the first appearance of Spider-Man, the introduction of Black Panther and the first same-sex marriage in X-Men.

Issues being left for people to find and read include reprinted copies of Amazing Fantasy #15 (1962) which first introduced the world to Spider-Man and is being re-released in the UK this week, Fantastic Four #52 (1966) which introduced Black Panther to the Marvel Universe, Astonishing X-Men #51 (2012) which marked the first same-sex marriage in mainstream comics, Captain Marvel #14 (2013) which includes the first cameo appearance of Kamala Khan, who would become Marvel’s first Muslim female super hero to lead her own series, and Spider-Woman #1 (2015) which follows Jessica Drew as she balances her responsibilities as a parent by day, and her duties as Spider-Woman by night.

The initiative aims to introduce new audiences to the origins of the characters and stories that have influenced pop culture and will see hundreds of comics distributed on public transport in Glasgow, London, Manchester, Brighton, and Cardiff.

Professor Chris Murray, a comic books lecturer at the University of Dundee, said: “Marvel Comics has been a cultural phenomenon for 80 years, introducing us to relatable heroes like Spider-Man and The Hulk who, despite being outsiders, always did the right thing.

“Through its characters like the X-Men and Black Panther it has helped fight prejudice, and has always strived for equality. Its epic storytelling long rivalled blockbuster films until its superheroism hit the big screen itself to dominate the cultural landscape like never before.

“The real success of Marvel Comics comes from the fact that those flights of imagination always have one foot rooted in reality, and for 80 years readers have been inspired to imagine and fight for a better world alongside their heroes.”

Mike Stagg, SVP Marvel Franchise EMEA for The Walt Disney Company added: “Taking stock at moments like this allows us to recognise just what an amazing 80 years of story-telling we have had the privilege of being part of.

“We are honoured to have had the opportunity to share these with fans around the world, through our comics, merchandise, films, games and TV and have been inspired in all the ways in which our fans have embraced us. And yet it feels like we have only just got started, so here’s to another 80 years!”