In this week’s Comixology (at Amazon) sales, Marvel is going all out for the 4th of July weekend: most of the Thor catalog, most of the Fantastic Four catalog, a “monthly” sale and then some Avengers / X-Men / Eternals material. Yeah, that’s a lot in a week DC didn’t drop a new sale. Also – Matt Kindt’s Dark Horse catalog.
Where did the New Releases and Sale pages go?
In case you’re having troubles with the new UIX (a LOT of people have been):
Before we started, we’d like to note an improvement to Marvel listings. It’s not clear if this change originated on the Marvel side or the Amazon side, but they’re making an attempt to break up some of the titles into a way that’s a little easer to look at. It’s an improvement. Not necessarily a fix, but a step in the right direction. (Not that we’ve been trying to fill that gap with a similar approach or anything.) We’ll see if the next DC listing follows suit.
With that said, let’s dive in.
Hammers and Bolts
Marvel’s Thor Legacy Sale runs a whopping two week through Monday, 7/11.
You’d think there was a movie coming out or something… and yes, it’s proper that Walt Simonson gets his own carousel on the main page.
The catalog style page is here, or you can scroll down to the bottom of the main page.
Here’s the breakdown by series/volume:
- Journey Into Mystery ’52-’66 – The earliest Thor stories from Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
- The Mighty Thor ’66-’96 – From Lee & Kirby until the relaunches started
- The Mighty Thor ’96-’04 – The Heroes return Dan Jurgens era, initially with John Romita, Jr.
- Thor ’07-’11 – Starts with J. Michael Straczynski & Olivier Coipel, ends with Matt Fraction & Pasqual Ferry. Gillen in the middle.
- The Mighty Thor ’11-’12 – Fraction gets a relaunch with Coipel, Ferry and early Pepe Larraz
- The Jason Aaron era ’12-’19 – It’s a LOT easer to look at the omnibuses across all the relaunches here
- Thor ’20 to present – The current Donny Cates run with Nic Klein as the primary artist – also available as $0.99 single issues
So let’s talk about the upcoming movie. If you want to catch up with that, you want the Jason Aaron era. The God Butcher is the first arc. If you go with that set of omnibuses, Jane Foster picks up the hammer in V.2. We don’t think that starting with the first Jane Foster issues (and slimmer volumes) is a great jumping on point. It’s a saga and you’ll get a lot more out of it if you start at the beginning of Aaron’s run.
Past that, we’re all about the Walt Simonson Thor. It’s probably the most influential run since early days and it’s great. You’ll want the Thor Visionaries: Walter Simonson set that starts here. (The Thor by Walter Simonson version of the reprints seems to be missing the final volume. *sigh* These things happen.)
We also like to go back to the original Lee/Kirby. Not too early. We’d say stay closer to where it changed from Journey Into Mystery to Thor. The first year of JIM was a little rough. The Wrath of Odin Epic Collection is a good chunk of prime Lee/Kirby Thor and also features the first time Jane Foster was elevated to godhood, since Jane is a big topic right now. It’s also a $6.99 Epic Collection and you have to watch the price points on Epics right now.
Marvel’s Fantastic Four Legacy Sale runs through Sunday, 7/7.
Yes, a throwback to sales ending on Sunday. And they’re not having carousels displaying highlights on this sale page, either. We’re not quite sure if we should read anything into that.
So, first let’s break down the various FF titles/volumes on sale
- Fantastic Four ’61-’96 – The original run
- Fantastic Four ’98-’12 – Heroes Return era through Hickman
- But it’s easier to get the Hickman era here, where FF is included.
- Fantastic Four ’12-’14 – The Matt Fraction / Mark Bagley era
- Fantastic Four ’14-’15 – The James Robinson/Leonard Kirk run
- Fantastic Four ’18-present – The current Dan Slott run with a rotating cast of artists
Yes, Fantastic Four has been relaunched less than other Marvel titles. As to what’s good, the gold standard has always been the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby run. (And yes, we do think you can draw a straight line from Kirby’s Challengers of the Unknown at DC to Fantastic Four.) We’d say they start to hit their stride a little before Galactus shows up – V.3 of the Epic Collections (“The Coming of Galactus“) or V.4/5 of the Masterworks editions and you can ride a very fun train from there to the end of Lee/Kirby.
And at this point, we should talk about the “pick your poison” of Epic vs. Masterworks. The Masterworks are built out straight into the Byrne era. We think the $6.99 Epic Collections are the best value here, though some of the newer ones are priced higher. The Epics go just past the Lee/Kirby era and then pick up again after Byrne’s run. Pick the format that works for you and has the issues you’re looking for.
Speaking of Byrne’s run, that’s the next highpoint that everyone agrees on. How to read Byrne? Well, there are 3 volumes of Masterworks on sale (V. 21-23) or you can hop on to Fantastic Four Visionaires: John Byrne. You’d need to cut over to the Visionaries run at V. 4 to pick up where the discounted Masterworks leave off. These comics really ought to be in an Epic Collection, but Marvel doesn’t seem in any hurry to roll the Visionaires up into a more economical package. (or should we say, economical when it’s on sale?)
Fast forward a bit to the Heroes Reborn era and there is a LOT to love about the Mark Waid / Mike Wieringo run. They brought back the “explorer” vibe from Lee/Kirby era that isn’t always there and upped the sense of wonder. You’d want the four Ultimate Collection volumes that start here.
And then, of course, there’s the the Hickman era. A long storyline that laid the groundwork for his Avengers run and you can certainly argue that his Secret Wars endcap to that is a Fantastic Four / Doctor Doom story. The omnibus editions we highlighted above include his FF spin-off comic that frequently crossed over with Fantastic Four, much like the Avengers titles flowed together. That packaging will be a better experience.
Guards! Guards! No… That’s Pratchett. Never Mind.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Sale runs through Monday, 7/11. That’s the link to the scroll bar view, so you need to go down to the bottom of the page, past the Thor links to get to the catalog view.)
First off, the foundational Steve Gerber/Al Milgrom run (sometimes repackaged as “Tomorrow’s Avengers”) doesn’t appear to be included and we take a dim view of that. Particularly if the Valentino run on that incarnation of the team is included. Booooo!
So here’s the chronological breakdown by series
- Guardians of the Galaxy ’90-’95 – Classic team, often thought of as the Valentino era
- Guardians of the Galaxy ’08-’10 – This is where the team that was adapted for film began. Often thought of as the Abnett and Lanning / DnA era or Annihilation era.
- Guardians of the Galaxy ’13-15 – Briand Bendis arrives
- Black Vortex – Event that crosses over with X-Men, part of it is included in the final Bendis GoG volume
- Guardians of the Galaxy ’17-18 – The Gerry Duggan / Aaron Kuder era (Yes, a consistent artist throughout the run. It really is possible!)
- Guardians of the Galaxy ’19 – The Donny Cates run
- Guardians of the Galaxy ’20-’21 – The recently ended Al Ewing era.
Those are the major beats to the Guardians. No, for all their film success, they’ve never really had what you’d call a long running title. Their sales peak was _probably_ the Valentino run in the ’90s and that volume is easily the longest running. Which is not to say there haven’t been some enjoyable runs.
We were *all in* for the Al Ewing run and quite peeved that it ended just as all the chess pieces seemed to have been moved in place. Highly recommended and included a throwback to the original conception of Star-Lord, too.
The Jim Valentino run is also a lot of fun, with the original Guardians in the far future. He also plays around with legacy characters in a way you used to see with Legion of Superheroes and Kamandi, back in the day. And this is what Valentino was doing right before he left to form Image. That’s the first three volumes in the link. We’re honestly not familiar with the Michael Gallagher/Kevin West run that followed.
The Dan Abnett/Andy Lanning / Paul Pelletier / Brad Walker era is also solid, although we wouldn’t argue with you if you preferred to visit it through the Annihilation collections. We’d put the DnA Nova as what really rebooted the Marvel “cosmic” sub-line, but this is where the Guardians of the present timeline formed and if your point of reference is the films, this is where you start.
Marvel’s July Sale
Marvel’s “Monthly July Sale” runs through… 8/1. You thought it was going to be 7/31, didn’t you? And that’s another Sunday end date, like we used to see.
They have display carousels on the main page for Deadpool, (Secret Empire era) Captain America, Wolverine, Inhumans, The Ulitmate Universe and “More Marvel.” It’s an eclectic mix, sort of like a smaller scale version of the recent DC sales.
Some things we noticed that we’d give a thumbs up to.
If you’re into Inhumans, we still think that the ’98 Marvel Knight imprint Inhumans 12-parter by Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee has not been topped. Now, that said, the Hugo-nominated Black Bolt from Saladin Ahmed and Christian Ward gives it a run for its money. Black Bolt awakens in a prison in outer space, with neither a memory of how he got there or his powers (that’s the all-in one edition, save a couple bucks with that).
A lousy $2.99 gets you Meltdown, a Wolverine/Havok team-up written by Louise & Walt Simonson and painted by John J. Muth. As you might guess from the lineup, it was originally serialized in the old “prestige format.”
Ultimate X-Men is getting pushed hard. We seem to recall liking it well enough at the time and it probably peaked around V. 5 & 6 in this set – that’s when Brian K. Vaughan was writing it. (He did Runaways and Mystique around then, too.)
Not the Lead-In We’d Have Chosen…
Marvel’s “Avengers, Eternals & X-Men” Sale runs through Sunday, 7/7.
Doubtless intended to whet the appetite for the current crossover Event with what has come before. Honest, we were not big on Avengers Vs. X-Men, so if you’re really curious, maybe read the main series before thinking about going after the tie-ins.
We have fonder (if a little vague) memories of Maximum Security for an Avengers/X-Men convergence.
If you’re in the mood for Eternals and the original Kirby isn’t handy (and it’s not on sale here — boooooo), you can do a lot worse then the Neil Gaiman / John Romita, Jr. series.
Kindt Without Keanu
The Dark Horse Matt Kindt sale runs through Monday, 7/4.
Kindt’s most celebrated work at Dark Horse is definitely Mind MGMT. It’s a bit of a genre mashup about conspiracies and psychic espionage. Kindt writes AND draws it. One man gang, as it were. The omnibus editions are the best deal here.
If you’re looking for something similar to Mind MGMT, we’d point you towards Dept. H, wherein an investigator is sent to an underwater base to investigate sabotage and there are much stranger things going on than meets the eye.
For something a bit more recent, the single issue of Apache Delivery Service (which wrapped in April) are available for $0.99 a pop. Therein, witches complicate the hunt for a cache of gold in the jungles of Vietnam.