New MARVEL Book Line Targets Younger Readers With Its Greatest Classics

All the cool kids will be reading Lee, Kirby, Ditko — and MORE…

Old-school fans often moan that “kids today” (shakes fist) just don’t appreciate the classics.

Well, Marvel is taking a crack at reaching those younger readers with a new line of 6″ x 9″ collections of some of the publisher’s greatest works — including Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s original Spider-Man tales and Lee and Jack Kirby’s first Fantastic Four and X-Men stories.

“The Mighty Marvel Masterworks will collect the very beginning of Marvel’s most iconic heroes: the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, the X-Men, and more,” the publisher announced. “The stories that kicked off the sagas of these beloved franchises will now be available in an accessible new 6 x 9 format that the whole family can enjoy!”

Here are Marvel’s descriptions of the first three editions, scheduled for June:

— Collecting AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (1963) #1-10 and material from AMAZING FANTASY (1962) #15, MIGHTY MARVEL MASTERWORKS: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN – WITH GREAT POWER will feature Peter Parker’s web-slinging adventures from the very beginning — including the tragic origin that started it all; the first appearances of the Daily Bugle, J. Jonah Jameson, Doctor Octopus, the Sandman, the Vulture and Electro; and guest-star nods from the Fantastic Four and Human Torch!

— Collecting FANTASTIC FOUR (1961) #1-10, MIGHTY MARVEL MASTERWORKS: THE FANTASTIC FOUR VOL. 1 will feature the fateful cosmic voyage of scientist Reed Richards, pilot Ben Grimm and siblings Sue and Johnny Storm, who became known to the world as Mr. Fantastic, the Thing, the Invisible Girl and the Human Torch —the Fantastic Four. See the first of their many extraordinary adventures including their first battles with legendary villains such as the Mole Man, the Skrulls, the Puppet Master, the Sub-Mariner, and the diabolical Doctor Doom.

— Collecting UNCANNY X-MEN (1963) #1-10, MIGHTY MARVEL MASTERWORKS: THE X-MEN – THE STRANGEST SUPER HEROES OF ALL will feature Professor X’s original teen team as they set off on a mission to forge peace between man and mutantkind. Meet Cyclops, Angel, Beast, Iceman and Marvel Girl and thrill to their first encounter with the Master of Magnetism, Magneto, and his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.

A few thoughts:

— The books are listed at $15.99 a pop.

— Marvel only released the Spider-Man covers. The main one is by retro-fave Michael Cho and the variant — for comics shops only — will be based on Kirby and Ditko’s Amazing Fantasy #15 cover.

— Why the smaller dimensions? Books that size are popular in the youth market. That’s great, but it will mean the art will be smaller. That said, hopefully these books will prompt kids to seek out more — which is clearly the aim here. I imagine these will be popping up at school book fairs and possibly in young-reader sections at bookstores.

— Marvel’s announcement didn’t include exact release dates, but Amazon notes that Spider-Man is scheduled for June 22; Fantastic Four for July 27; and the X-Men for Aug. 24. That means they’re likely to be in comics shops a week or two earlier.


— MARVEL Adds Even More EPIC COLLECTIONS to 2021 Lineup. Click here.

— Marvel’s Classic WHAT IF? to Get Omnibus Treatment — With Three Different Covers. Click here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. It’s about freakin’ time. I hope DC does the same thing. This is how my friend got his son into to comics.

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  2. I really appreciate this news. Today’s kids will definitely get a dose of old-school Marvel.

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  3. This is great. These stories should always be out there, and easily accessible. I hope these books make it into school book fairs. Aside from libraries, that’s the best way to get these in the hands of kids who don’t currently shop at a comic store.

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  4. A bunch of years ago, Marvel did a series of “Spider-Man Adventures”, where they redid those original stories with computer coloring, and a slightly Manga-ish art style. I think it was to appeal to kids who couldn’t look past the Ditko-ness of it all. Actually, I think if they just did a computer recoloring of the Ditko stuff, it would be more appealing to a younger audience. Me, I prefer the old 4-color style, but… y’know…kids, today.

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    • Actually, a few years ago we tried an experiment (wouldn’t qualify as a scientific study) in which we showed various comics to middle school kids from varied backgrounds and asked them to talk to us about the art. We spoke with them one at a time so that each kid would not be influenced by a group. Just about every kid picked the comics from either the Silver Age or Bronze Age as an example of the comic art they liked. And just about every kid picked the photo-realistic art of today’s comics as the art they did not like. Many said they “hated” the photo-realistic art, while some said it was “scary”, “frightening”, “gross”, “ugly”, and I remember one who said it was “overkill”. I asked her what she meant by “overkill” and she said it was “too much art in such a small space”. They also thought that the photo-realistic art was “too dark”. So yeah, based on that experiment, if kids are going to get into comics, it’s going to have to be the old stuff.

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    • Oh, and one more thing, they said the art in the comics with “Adventures” in the title was “too cartoony”. From their comments, it sounded like they felt they were being “drawn down to”, like the art equivalent of being “talked down to”.

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