Marvel Announces New $1 Reprint Throwback Line

In what is obviously meant to be a compliment/counter to DC's "After Watchmen" program of last year, Marvel announced their "World's Greatest Comics" line on their corporate site back in December here and have made a second recent small statement here.

DC's "After Watchmen... What's Next?" program can be read about at, a sub-site of DC's website [which appears to have been taken down - DEAD LINK - 9/15/2o12]. It was just narrowly an even better program than this new initiative from Marvel, because it also included a free catalog that explained why they felt X, Y, and Z project they did was similar to "Watchmen" and why you should go buy them all.

This seems like an excellent idea to me. Comics, as a medium, is great. Individual comic-books are great. Superheroes are great. Trade-paperbacks are great. Marvel is great. DC is great. These programs essentially promote all of these things at once.

Already out is "Invincible Iron Man" v3 #1 reprint for FREE no less!
"Captain America" v5 #1
"Thor" v3 #1
"The Wonderful Wizard of OZ" #1
"The Punisher MAX" #1
are to follow over the course of March for a mere $1 each.

Putting out the first issues of the modern interpretations of the BIG THREE (Thor, Captain America, Iron Man) just before they are presumably going to be re-united by the currently ongoing "Siege" crossover 'event' storyline in cheap, cheap reprints is a stroke of genius! No question about it.

"Marvel's Greatest Comics" was the title of a reprint anthology series Marvel produced from 1968 to 1981, which was a re-titling of "Marvel Collectors' Item Classics" started in 1965. The bombastically promotional nature of the title is Stan Lee all the way. So there's a throw-back element here as well: the idea of presenting old comics material again at a lower price has been around for a LONG time.

"Marvel Tales Annual" #1 was Marvel's first and was printed back in 1964! It reprinted the origin stories of each of Marvel's biggest hit characters from the previous three years. In a way, this is EXACTLY what the new "Marvel's Greatest Comics" line is doing. I have fond memories of some reprint titles, as they were the only way to cheaply catch-up on old Spider-Man stories in those days before the internet!

Reprints may not be worth as much as the original, they may entirely miss the cache of that 'THIS WAS THE OBJECT, THIS WAS THE TIME' feeling, but reprints are a good thing.

In fact, the first comic-books were reprints. "How the fuck is that possible?" you ask. "How could there be a reprint if there were no comics to reprint!" you think, smug in your excellently logical thought process.

Well Mr. Smug, the first comic-books and comics trade-paperbacks were reprints of comic-strips. "The Funnies" #1 from January 1929 was essentially a newspaper comic-strip section without the newspaper. "Famous Funnies: A Carnival of Comics", published in 1933, was the first comic-book one-shot. "Famous Funnies" #1 kicked-off the first ongoing comic-book series way back in 1934.

They are all firsts, but they are also made-up mostly or entirely of comic-strips reprinted one on-top of another page after page, reformatted to the new form of the comic-BOOK.

To learn yourself more about this stuff:

Arthur's Marvel Comics Reprints Website is a catalog of Marvel reprint titles.
Marvel is a very detail-oriented examination of the Marvel Masterworks hardcover and trade-paperback reprint line.
The Collected Comics Library is a strange but thorough site which reports on collected reprint editions.
and has a detailed history of the invention of the comic-book format in the section titled "Newsstand Period 1922-1955".

UPDATE: 3/12/2oo9
Not only are these many first issues being made available in super-cheap reprints, but the second issues will be available for free as a part of Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited on their website.


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