The Marvel Universe is a rich tapestry of classic stories and amazing Superheroes that spans almost 60 years. When you’re new to comics this expansive back catalogue can be intimidating. There’s just so much available! While recent releases are readily available in print, it hasn’t always been the case for older stories from decades past. To solve this problem Marvel have introduced the Epic Collections line, which over the past few years has plugged the back catalogue holes and given new readers a great point of entry at the same time.
Read on to find out more about these chunky trade paperback collections and why they’re good for those new to comics.
What Are Marvel Epic Collections?
The Marvel Epic Collections are trade paperbacks which collect huge chunks of a Marvel character’s comic book stories in order of release. Ranging from 450-500+ pages, or around 20 issue of vintage comics, these collections are massive! They’re the kind trade paperback that you could sit down with in a comfy chair, a tasty drink and spend your weekend with getting lost in the Marvel Universe with.
The best part about them is that they won’t cost you a fortune, with the collections sitting at the affordable price of around $35. That’s about $1.50 issue and heaps cheaper than tracking down the pricey individual comics.
They’re also a way better solution to previous efforts. The previous offering, the Essentials line, were printed on inferior paper in black and white. The Marvel Masterworks on the other hand are on the other end of scale by being hardcover collections, but collect half as much material for twice the price. As you can see, Marvel have offered the best of both worlds, while still remaining accessible.
Why Is The Numbering Out Of Order?
If you look through the list of Marvel Epic Collections you’ll notice that the release order is out of whack. For instance, at the time of writing this, the Iron Man collections have been released in the following order: 10, 16, 1, 13, 11, 2 and 15 out later this month. But don’t worry, the remaining volumes in between will eventually hit the shelves over the coming years.
Why do they do this? There are two main reasons:
- Availability of what is already in print. If the material already available in another collection then there’s no need to collect in this format straight away. Marvel will eventually get to collecting those stories once the previous print runs of the story are no longer available.
- The publishing line would be stuck in the 1960’s for years if it was released chronologically. While there are loads of great comics from this era, by releasing it out of order we get to sample a variety of different points in Marvel’s history.
Because of this, there’s no prescribed volume or character to begin reading. I suggest looking for the blurbs on the back for heroes that you like and seeing if it grabs your interest. If you’re still not sure, the comics internet (including this very website) is full of opinions Marvel’s wide range of stories.
Are They Good For New Readers?
These collections are affordable ways to binge read huge chunks of Marvel’s decades of stories. They’re easy to pick up and start reading because they usually group appropriate issues together. This means there’s no need to track down other volumes for the comics to makes sense. In most instances each volume contains multiple story arcs so you’re definitely getting bang for your buck.
What Marvel Epic Collections Are Available To Read?
Most heroes introduced between the 1960s to the mid-80’s have at least one collection available. That includes Marvel’s A-list such as Spider-Man, Avengers, Fantastic Four, Thor, Captain America and others. Digging deeper, characters such as Moon Knight, The Punisher, Doctor Strange and Iron Fist also featured. Even Star Wars is heavily featured, with the publisher using the Epic collections as a great excuse to reprint the old Dark Horse material (now considered Legends).
Wikipedia is pretty good at keeping the full list of Marvel Epic Collections up-to-date, listing all of the collections that have been released so far and coming soon.
Where Can I Find Marvel Epic Collections?
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Trevor Van As
Trevor Van As is the founder of How to Love Comics and has loved comics all his life. When he's not reading or talking about comics he can be found eating frozen yogurt and dancing like no one is watching.