Cover art by Mike Wieringo and Karl Kesel

Announced last February, the first issue of Marvel Comics Digest hit comics shops, newsstands, and checkout lanes this week!

Produced by Archie Comics (who perfected the comics digest market decades ago), this 200-plus-page magazine reprints numerous Spider-Man stories from over five decades!

The stories:

How many actual story pages?  20+18+17+17+17+16+22+22+22+10+10+21 = 212 pages!

Divide by two, and you get the equivalent of 106 pages of a regular-sized comic book, for just $6.99!  Compare to $3.99 for a normal 22-page comic book, and this is a pretty good deal!

Are the stories any good? Well, the Lee/Ditko story is a great done-in-one story about a washed-up boxer who becomes a stuntman who runs amok!

Then there’s a classic Hammerhead/Doctor Octopus story arc… Doctor Octopus returns from leaving Aunt May at the altar in Canada, as he’s haunted by the ghost of Hammerhead! (There’s also a brief cameo of the Spidey-mobile!)

We then get two classic stories of Birdman The Vulture, originally told by Ditko and Lee, but recreated for Marvel’s Marvel Age line, which, curiously, were collected into digest trades for the book market way back in 2004!

The Sinister Six team-up for another retelling of the classic Ditko/Lee story, and then we get two original stories based on the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon currently airing on Disney XD! The last story actually aired on TV, and was screen-captured to produce a fun story where Spidey teams up with SHIELD drop-out Deadpool to retrieve a critical file from the Taskmaster.

Overall, the stories are fun, and while some of the coloring looks a little murky on newsprint, everything is legible.

Except for the 80s and 90s, the stories are from all eras, so there’s stuff to appeal to almost every reader.

The continued stories are complete in this issue, so you get a satisfying chunk of story with all of the reprints.

Ads? They are house ads for Marvel’s trade collections, and the “New Archie” line of comics. No ads interrupt the stories, and covers are reproduced four-to-a-page as well. So.. the advertising isn’t much different than the regular Marvel comics.

This magazine is published every two months, and next August’s issue features The Avengers!

Might we see actual paperback collections similar to Archie Giant Comics? 480 pages for $7.99? 1000 pages for $15.99? Marvel doesn’t have an inexpensive line of reprints, especially one aimed at a casual reader, especially a young reader with spending money. A “giant comics” line of books, with EANs, could be marketed to school book fairs, and would be competitive with other graphic novels. (And…just like Gemstone’s Disney comics and Frommer’s travel guides, can sport an ISSN as well, making them suitable for subscriptions!)

Recommended for:

  • care packages sent to summer camp
  • long family trips, when you need to keep the kids distracted
  • commuting (small size is perfect for purses, backpacks, and messenger bags!)
  • fans of Spider-Man, especially those not familiar with the older stories
  • fans who think comics are too expensive, or who think the newer stories aren’t as good as those back-in-the-day
  • bathroom bookshelves

5 COMMENTS

  1. This a nice package. Still think the price is a bit steep but you do get a lot of Spidey for the money. The older stories look great and there is a nice synergy between the Ditko story which features a Ned Leeds, Betty Brant, Peter Parker subplot that leads to Ned and Betty’s wedding years later in the next story. The more recent Marvel age stories look murky and dark as a DC film. Not at all suited for the digest format. I would have much preferred to see more classic material. Issues of Marvel Team-Up would work great for this format. A solid first issue. Looking forward to the Avengers next.

  2. I love this new marvel Digest. I hope it’s successful! The blend of classic and new stories are perfect. Too bad Marvel didn’t try this long ago. Why isn’t there a Kindle version?

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